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HONORÉ DE BALZAC 



LETTERS TO MADAME HANSKA 



BALZAC'S WORKS. 

Translatée! by Miss K. P. Wormeley. 

PÈRE GORIOT. 

LAST IN CARNATION OF VAUTRIN. 

RISE AED FALL OF CÉSAR BIROTTEAU. 

EUGÉNIE GRANDET. 

COUSIN PONS. 

THE COUNTKY DOCTOR. 

THE TWO BROTHERS. 

THE ALKAÏÏEST (La Recherche de l'Absolu), 

MODESTE MIGNON. 

THE MAGIC SKIN (La Peau de Chagrin). 

COUSIN BETTE. 

LOUIS LAMBERT. 

BUREAUCRACY (Les Employés). 

SERAPHITA. 

SONS OF THE SOIL (Les Paysans). 

FAME AND SORROW (Chat-qui-pelote). 

THE LILY OF THE VALLEY. 

URSULA. 

AN HISTORICAL MYSTERY. 

ALBERT SAVARUS. 

BALZAC : A MEMOIR. 

PIERRETTE. 

THE CHOUANS. 

LOST ILLUSIONS. 

A GREAT MAN OF THE PROVINCES IN 

PARIS. 
THE BROTHERHOOD OF CONSOLATION. 
THE VILLAGE RECTOR. 
MEMOIR S OF TWO YOUNG MARRIED 

WOMEN. 
CATHERINE DE' MEDICI. 
LUCIEN DE RUBEMPRÉ. 

FERRAGUS, and DUCHESSE DE LANGEAIS. 
A START IN LIFE. 
THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT. 
BEATRIX. 

A DAUGHTER OF EVE. 
THE GALLERY OF ANTIQUITIES. 
GOBSECK. 

THE LESSER BOURGEOISIE. 
JUAN A. 

THE DE FUT Y OF ARCIS. 
PERSONAL OPINIONS OF BALZAC. 
LETTERS TO MME. HANSKA. 



HARDY, PRATT & CO., PuMishers, Boston. 



HONORE DE BALZAC 

TRANSLATEE BY 

KATHARINE PRESCOTT WORMELEY 



LETTERS 

TO 



MADAME HANSKA 

BORN COUNTESS RZEWUSKA 
AFTERWARDS MADAME HONORE DE BALZAC 

1833-1846 




HARDY, PRATT AND COMPANY 

3 SOMERSET STREET 

BOSTON 

igOO 



Copyright, 1900, 
By ÏTardy, Pratt and Co. 

AU rights reserved. 



ÉUnttersttg Press : 

John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S. A. 



CONTENTS. 



Page 

TRANSLATONS PREFACE vii 

LETTERS : 

I. Letters during 1833 1 

II. Letters during 1834 105 

III. Letters during 1835 232 

IV. Letters during 1836 298 

V. Letters during 1837 ........ 383 

VI. Letters during 1838 469 

VII. Letters during 1839, 1840, 1841 .... 528 

VIII. Letters during 1843, 1844, 1845 .... 601 

IX. Letters during 1846 693 

APPENDIX 747 



TRANSLATONS PREFACE. 



In 1876 M. Calmann Lévy published Balzac' s Corre- 
spondent in the twenty-fourth volume of the Edition 
Définitive of his works. Thèse letters are prefaced by a 
short memoir written by his sister Laure, Madame Sur- 
ville, which she had already published in 1856, six years 
after her brother's death, under the title of " Balzac, sa vie 
et ses écrits, d'après sa correspondance." 

In tins Correspondence given in the Edition Définitive, 
the first letter addressed by Balzac to Madame Hanska is 
dated August 11, 1835, and to it is appended the following 
footnote : — 

" At this period Balzac was, and had been for some time, in 
correspondence with the distinguished woman to whom he was 
later to give his name ; but, unf ortunately, a part of this corre- 
spondence was burned in Moscow in a fire which occurred at 
Madame Hanska's résidence. It must, therefore, be remarked 
that in the letters of this séries two or three gaps occur, ail the 
more regrettable because those which escaped the fire présent a 
keen interest." (Éd. Déf c , vol. xxiv., p. 217.) 

The présent publication of Letters (of which this 
volume is a translation) bears upon its title-page the 
words: " H. de Balzac. CEuvres Posthumes. Lettres à 
l'Étrangère. 1833-1 842." # No explanation is given of 
how thèse letters were obtained, and no proof or assur- 
ance is offered of their authenticity. A foot-note ap- 
pended to the first letter merely states as follows : — 



via Translata/ s Préface. 

"M. le Vicomte de Spoelberch de Lovenjoul, in whose hands 
are the originals of thèse lctters, lias related the liistory of this 
correspondence in détail, under the title of ' Un Roman 
d'Amour ' (Calmann Lévy, publisher). Madame Ilanska, boni 
Countess Evelina (Eve) Rzewuska, who was then twenty-six or 
twenty-eight years old, resided at the château of Wierzchownia, 
in Volhynia. An enthusiastic reader of the ' Scènes de la Vie 
privée,' uneasy at the différent turn which the mind of the author 
was taking in ' La Peau de Chagrin,' she addressed to Balzac — 
then thirty-three years old, to the care of the publisher Gosselin, 
a letter signed, ' l'Etrangère,' which was delivered to him Febru- 
ary 28, 1832. Other letters followed ; tliat of November 7 
ended thus : < A word from you in the " Quotidienne " will give 
me the assurance tliat you hâve received my letter, and that I 
can write to you without fear. Sign it : " To TÉ — h. de B." ' 
This acknowledgment of réception appeared in the ' Quoti- 
dienne' of December 9. Thus was inaugurated the System of 
4 Petite correspondance ' now practised in divers newspapers, 
and, at the saine time, this correspondence with lier who was, 
seventeen years later, in 1850, to become his wife." 

Balzac himself gives the date of his réception of 
l'Etrangère's first letter in a way that puts it beyond ail 
controversy. In a letter to Madame Ilanska, written 
January 1, 1846 (Ed Déf., p. 58G), he says : — 

" One year more, dear, and I take it with pleasure, for thèse 
years, thèse thirteen years which will be consummated in Feb- 
ruary on the happy day, a thousand times blessed, when I re- 
ceived that adorable letter, starred with happiness and hope, 
seem to me links indestructible, e ter mil. The fourteenth will 
begin in two months." 

Thirteen years consummated in February, 1846, the four- 
teenth year begimnnrj in February, 1846, make the date 
of the réception of that first letter February 28, 1833, nofc 
1832. This fact not only puts an *end to the taie about 
the advertisement in the " (Quotidienne " [contained in the 
note to first page of présent volume, quoted above, and 
in pages 31 to 31) of u Roman d'Amour" ], but it falsifies 



Translatons Préface. ix 

tbe dates of the présent volume. The first letter given, 
wliieh is evidently not the first of Balzac's replies, is 
dated January, 1833, a month or more before the first 
letter of "l'Etrangère" was written. Throughout the 
volume other dates can be shown to be false, proving 
arbitra ry arrangement of some kind, and casting justi- 
fiable doubt on the authentieity of a certain number of 
thèse letters. 

"Un Roman d'Amour" is a book made up of conjec- 
tures, insinuations, hypothèses, and errors, in which one, 
and one only, fact is presented. That fact is a letter from 
Balzac to his sister, Madame Surville. 

This letter Madame Surville first published in 1856 in 
her memoir of lier brother (pp. 139, 140), introducing it 
in the following words: " Being absent from Paris in the 
month of October of the same year [1833], I received from 
my brother the following letter : " — 

"Gone, without a word of warning [sans crier gare]. The 
poor toiler went to your house to make you sliare a little jôy, 
and found no sister ! I tonnent you so often with my troubles 
tliat the least I can do is to write you this joy. You will not 
laugh at me, you will believe me, you will ! 

"I went yesterday to Gérard's; he presented me to three 
Gernian families. I thought I was dreaming: three families ! — 
no less ! — one from Vienna, another from Frankfort, the third 
Prussian, I don't know from where. 

" They confided to me that they had corne faithfully for a 
month to Gérard's, in the hope of seeing me ; and they let me 
know that beyond the frontier of France (dear, ungrateful 
country ! ) my réputation lias begun. ' Persévère in your 
labours/ they added, i and you will soon be at the head of 
literary Europe.' Of Europe! they said it, sister ! Flattering 
families ! — IIow I could make certain friends roar with laugh- 
ter if I told them that. Ma foi ! thèse were kind Germans, and 
I let myself believe they thought what they said, and, to tell the 
truth, I could hâve listened to them ail night. Praise is so good 
for us artists, and that of the good Germans restored my cour- 



x Translator* s Préface. 

âge ; I departecl quite gaily [tout guilleret'] f rom Gérard's, and I 
am going to fire three guns on the public and on envious folk, 
to wit : 'Eugénie Grandet,' 'Les Aventures d'une idée heu- 
reuse,' whicli you know about, and my ' Prêtre catholique,' one 
of my finest subjects. 

" The affair of the ' Etudes de Mœurs " is well under way ; 
thirty thousand francs of author's rights in the reprints will 
stop up large holes. That slice of my debts paid, I shall go 
and seek my reward at Geneva. The horizon seems really 
brightening. 

" I hâve resumed my life of toil. I go to bed at six, directly 
after dinner. The animal digests and sleeps till midnight. 
Auguste makes me a cup of cofïee, with which the mind goes at 
one flash [tout oVune traite'] till midday. I rush to the printing- 
olïice to carry my copy and get my proofs, which gives exercise 
to the animal, who dreams as lie goes. 

'"One can put a good deal of black on white in twelve hours, 
little sister, and after a month of such life there 's no small 
work accomplished. Poor pen ! it must be made of diamond not 
to be worn ont by such toil! To lift its master to réputation, 
according to the prophecy of the Germans, to pay his debts to 
ail, and then to give him, some day, rest upon a mountain, — 
that is its task ! 

" What the devil are you doing so late at M. . . . ? Tell me 
about it, and say with me that the Germans are very worthy 
people. Fraternal handshake to Monsieur Canal. [Poignée de 
main fraternelle a M. Canal] ; tell him that ' Les Aventures 
d'une idée heureuse ' are on the ways. 

" I send you my proofs of the f Médecin de Campagne ' to 
read." 

When, twenty years later, Balzac's Correspondence ap- 
peared in the Edition Définitive (Calmann Lévy, 1876) 
Madame Surville's little memoir was made the Introduc- 
tion to the volume. On page lv (Introduction) the above 
letter is given. On page 176 the letter is again given (in 
its place in the Correspondence), and it is there identically 
the saine as the letter given above, down to the words : 
"What the devil are you doing so late at M. . . . ?" 
after which, the following additions are given : — 



Translatons Préface. xi 

"However, you are free, and this is not areproach, it is curi- 
osity ; between brother and sis ter that is pardonable. 

" Well, adieu. If you hâve a heart you will reply to me. A 
f rater nal handshake to M. Canal; tell him that the 'Aven- 
tures d'une idée ' are on the ways, and that he can soon read 
them. 

" Addio ! Addio ! Correct ' le Médecin ' well ; point out to me 
ail the passages which may seem to you bad ; and put the great 
pots into the little pots ; that is to say, if a thing can be said in 
one line instead of two, try to make the sentence. " 

Three points are hère to be observée! and borne in mind, 
namely : — 

1. Thèse discrepancies are additions in one version, 
and omissions in the other ; they are not changes in the 
phraseology. 

2. Balzac's playful niekname for Madame Surville' s 
lmsband, who v/as government engineer of bridges, canals, 
and highways, is given in both versions. 

3. The first point shows conelusively that the letter 
given in the Correspondence is not a mère copy from that 
in Madame Surville's memoir, but is takenfrom the original 
letter, inasmuch as the version of 1876, though identical 
to a certain point with that of 1856, gives additions to it. 

Twenty years later, in 1896, forty years after its first 
publication by the person whô received it, the same letter 
appears in " Un Roman d'Amour," introduced by the 
following words (pp. 76, 77, 78) : — 

" Happily, a unique document, and exceptionally precious 
in relation to this first interview, that at Neufchâtel [with 
Madame Hanska], is in our hands. It is précise, and fixes, 
from Balzac's own pen, his immédiate impressions of Madame 
Hanska and the five days he spent near her. This document 
consists of an autograph letter, almost entirely unpublished, 
addressed to his sister, Madame. Surville; this letter is cer- 
tainly the most important which, until now, has been brought 
to light on the opening of that celebrated passion. We shall 



xii Translatons P reface. 

quote it hère. Tu it will be found many other uuknown 
détails of Ihe most extrême interest, which confirm what we 
liave already said as to the rôle which the féminine élément 
always played in the life of the master. . . . Hère is the 
complète text [texte complet] of tins letter, certain ly written 
very rapidly, foi; we find several words omitted, and more 
than one obscurity. To make the meaning clearer we hâve 
made, according to our custom in such cases, some additions 
[adjonctions], placed, as usual, befcween brackets." 1 

[Paris] Saturday, 12 [October, 1833]. 

My.dear Sisteiï, — You nnderstand that T conld not speak 
to you before Eugénie, but I had ail my journey to relate to 
you. 

I hâve found down there ail that can flatter the thousand 
vanities of that animal called man, of whom the poet is cer- 
tainly the vainest species. But what am I saying? vanity ! 
No, there is nothing of ail that. I am happy, very happy in 
thouglits, in ail honor as yet. Alas ! a damned husband never 
left us for one second during five days. Ile kept between the 
petticoat of his wife and my waistcoat. [Neufchâtel is] a little 
town where a woman, an illustrious foreigner, cannot take a 
step without being seen. I was, as it were, in an oven. Con- 
straint does not suit me. 

The essentiai thing is that we are twenty-seven years old, 
beautiful to admiration ; that we possess the handsomest black 
hair in the world, the soft, deliciously délicate skin of brunettes, 
that w T e hâve a love of a little hand, a heart of twenty-seven, 
naïve ; [in short, she is] a true Madame de Lignolles, impru- 
dent to the point of flinging herself: upon my neck before ail 
the w T orld. 

I don't speak to you of colossal wealth. What is that be- 
fore a masterpiece of beauty, whom I can only compare to the 
Princess Belle-Joyeuse, but infinitely better? [She possesses] a 
lingering eye [œil traînant] which, when it meets, becomes of 
voluptuous splendor. I was intoxicated witli love. 

I don't know whom to tell this to; certainly it is not [pos- 
sible] either to lier, the great lady, the terrible marquise, who, 
suspecting the journey, cornes clown from lier pride, and in* 

1 One of thèse " adjonctions " is the signature ! — Tr. 



Translatons Préface. xiii 

timates an order that I shall go to lier at the Duc de F. J s [Fitz- 
James], [nor] is it [possible to tell it either] to her, poor, simple, 
delicious bourgeoise, who is like Blanche d'Azay. I am a 
/atàer,-— that 's another secret I had to tell you, — and at the 
head of a pretty little person, the most naïve créature that ever 
was, fallen like a flower from heaven, who cornes to me secretly, 
exacts no correspondence, and says : " Love me a year ; I will 
love you ail my life." 

It is not [either] to her, the most treasured, who has more 
jealousy for me than a mother has for the milk she gives her 
child. She does not like L'Étrangère, precisely because V Étran- 
gère appears to be the very thing for me. 

And, finally, it is not to her who wants her daily ration of 
love, and who, though voluptuous as a thousand cats, is neither 
graceful nor womanly. It is to you, my good sister, the former 
companion of my miseries and tears, that I wish to tell my 
joy, that it may die in the depths of your memory. Alas, I 
can't play the fop with any one, unless [apropos of ] Madame de 
Castrîes, whom celebrity does not frighten. I do not wish to 
cause the slightest harm by my indiscrétions. Theref ore, burn 
my letter. 

As it will be long before I see you, — for I shall go, no doubt, 
to Normandy and Angoulême, and return to see her at Geneva, — 
I had to write you this line to tell you I am happy at last. I 
am [joyous] as a child. 

Mon Dieu ! how beautiful the Val de Travers is, how ravish- 
ing the lake of Bienne ! It was there, as you may imagine, that 
we sent the husband to attend to the breakfast ; but we were 
in sight, and then, in the shadow of a tall oak, the first furtive 
kiss of love was given. Then, as our husband is approaching 
the sixties, I swore to wait, and she to keep her hand, her heart 
for me. 

Is n't it a pretty thing to hâve torn a husband — who looks 
to me like a tower — from the Ukraine, to corne eighteen hun- 
dred miles to meet a lover who has corne only four hundred, 
the monster ! 1 

l 'm joking ; but knowing my affairs and my occupation 

1 Monsieur Hanski hired tlie house in Neufchâtel early in the 
spring of 1833 and took his family there in May. Balzac was not in- 
vited, or, at any rate, did not go there till Septeraber 25th. 



xiv Translatons Préface. 

hère, my four hundred count as much as the eighteen hundred 
of my fiancée. She is really very well. She intends to be 
seriously ill at Geneva, which require [will require the care 
of ] M. Dupuytren to soften the Russian ambassador and obtain 
a permit to corne to Paris, for which she longs ; where there 
is, for a woïnan, liberty on the mountain. However, I 've en- 
chanted the husband ; and I shall try next year to get three 
months to myself. I shall go and see the Ukraine, and we hâve 
promised ourselves a magnificent and splendid journey in the 
Crimea ; which is, you know, a land where tourists do not go, 
a thousand times more beautiful than Switzerland or Italy. 
It is the Italy of Asia. 

But what labor between now and then ! Pay our debts ! 
Increase our réputation ! 

Yesterday I went to Gérard's. Three German families — 
one Prussian, one froni Prankfort, one from Vienna — w T ere 
officially presented to me. They came faithfully to Gérard's 
for a month past to see me and tell me that nothing was talked 
of but me in their country [chez eux] ; that amazing famé began 
for me on the frontier of France, and that I had onîy to persé- 
vère for a year or two to be at the head of literary Europe, and 
replace Byron, Walter Scott, Goethe, Hoffmann ! 

Ma foi! as they were good Germans I let myself believe 
[ail] that. It restored to me some courage, and I am going to 
fire a triple shot on the public and on the envious. During this 
f ortnight, at one flash [I shall] finish " Eugénie Grandet," and 
write the " Aventures d'une idée [heureuse] " and "Le Prêtre 
catholique," one of my finest subjects. Then will corne the fine 
third dizain , and after that I shall go and seek my reward at 
Geneva, after having paid a good slice of debts. There, sister. 
I hâve now resurned my winter life. I go to bed at six, with 
my dinner in my moût h, and I sleep till half-past twelve. At 
one o'clock Auguste brings me a cup of coffee, and I go at one 
flash, working from one in the morning till an hour after mid- 
day. At the end of twenty days, that makes a pretty amount 
of work! 

Adieu, dearest sister. If your husband has arrived, tell him 
the " Aventures d'une idée [heureuse] " are on the ways, and 
he will perhaps read them at Montglat, for I will send you 
the paper in which they appear if you stay till the end of the 
month. 



Translatons Préface. xv 

The affair of the " Études de Mœurs" is going on well. 
Thirty-three thousand francs of author's rights will just stop 
ail the big holes. I shall [then] only hâve to undertake the re- 
payment to my mother, and after that, faith ! I shall be at my 
ease. I hope to repay you the remaining thousand francs at 
the end of the month ; but if my mother wants ail her inter- 
ests [at once] I shall be obliged to put you ofî [till] the first 
fortnight in November. 

Well, adieu, my dear sister. If you hâve any heart, you 
will answer me. What .the de vil are you doing at Montglat ? 
However, you are free ; this is not a reproach, it is curiosity. 
Between brother and sister it is pardonable. Much tenderness. 
You won't say again that I don't write to you. 

Apropos, the pain in my side continues; but I hâve such 
fear of leeches, cataplasms, and to be tied down in a way that 
I can't finish what I hâve undertaken, that I put everything 
off. If it gets too bad we will see about it, I and the doctor, or 
magnetism. 

Addio, addio. A thousand kind things. Correct carefully 
the " Médecin [de Campagne]," or rather tell me ail the places 
that seem to you bad, and put the great pots into the Utile pots; 
that is to say, if a thing can be said in one line instead of 
two, try to make the sentence. 

Adieu, sister. [Honoré.] 

Now there are three points hère to be noticed and 
studied : — 

1 . The letters ail state the purpose for which they were 
written. The versions of 1856 and 1876 give the same 
purpose. That given in "Roman d'Amour" is totally 
différent. 

2. The " Roman d'Amour" letter claims to be the com- 
plète text [texte complet^. How cornes it, therefore, to 
bave such variations from the original letter published 
by the sister who received it, and republished authorita- 
tively in the Édition Définitive? 

3. Thèse variations are not merely omissions or ad- 
ditions of passages ; they are the total reconstruction of 
many, and very characteristic, sentences. 



xvi Translatent s Préface. 

Some one must hâve rewritten the letter. Some one 
lias garbled it. There can be no question about this ; the 
fact is there. It is not necessary for the vindication of 
Balzac' s honour to inquire who did it; but it is plain that 
it was done. 

It is therefore iegitimate to suppose that the hand 
which garbled parts of the letter added the slanderous 
language of the first part. 

Three years ago, in 189 G, when "Roman d'Amour" 
first appeared, I added to the new édition of my "Memoir 
of Balzac" an appendix entitled u A Vindication of Bal- 
zac." It goes into more détails connected with this 
slander than I can suitably put into this Préface, and I 
respectfully ask my re aciers to read it in the Memoir. 

Now, to me who hâve lived in Balzac' s mind for the 
last fifteen years as closely, perhaps, as any one now 
living, it is plain that the same hand that garbled the 
letter of October, 1833, lias been at work on some of the 
letters in the présent volume. 

The simple story of thèse letters is as follows: In 
February, 1833, Balzac received a letter, posted in Russia, 
from a lady who signed herself " l'Etrangère " [" For- 
eigner"]. This letter is not known to exist; nor is there 
any authentic knowledge of its contents ; but it began a 
correspondent between its writer and Balzac which ended 
in their marriage in 1850. It does not appear at what 
date Madame Hanska gave lier name ; it must hâve been 
quite early in the correspondence, although lie never knew 
it exactly until the day lie met her in September, 1833, 
at NeufchâteL 

The first reply from Balzac which is given is the first 
letter in the présent volume, misdated January, 1833, a 
month before l'Etrangère's first letter was written ; but it 
is plainly not the first reply he had made to her. 

Eleven letters from Balzac follow the first, ending 



Translatons Préface. xvii 

on the day (September 26, 1833) when lie met Madame 
Hanska for the first time at Neufchâtel. 

Thèse twelve letters to an unknown woman are roman- 
tic; they are the letters of a poet, creating for himself 
an idéal love, and letting his imagination bear him along 
unchecked. From oar colder point of view they seem, 
hère and there, a little foolish, as addressed to a total 
stranger, but the impression conveyed of his own being, 
his nature, the troubles of his life and heart, is affecting 
and full of dignity. They are, moreover, the letters of 
a gentleman to a woman he respects. Owing to their 
false dates and to a forgery in the first letter (done un- 
doubteclly to bring them into line with "Roman d'Amour "), 
they are open to suspicion ; but Balzac's characteristics 
are in them, and I believe them to be, in spite of some 
interpolations, genuine. 

But from the time that he meets Madame Hanska at 
Neufchâtel, a date which corresponds precisely with the 
garbled letter in " Roman d'Amour," the tone of the 
correspondence changes. For six months (from October 
to Mardi) it becomes ont of keeping with the respect 
which the foregoing letters, and the letters of ail the rest 
of his life show that he f elt for her. More especially is 
this true of the letters of January, February, and March. 
They are not in Balzac's style of writing; they présent 
ideas that were not his, expressed in a manner that was 
not his ; they contradict the impression given by ail the 
other letters of his life ; they contradict the letters of 
romantic idéal love that précède them ; they contradict 
what every friend who knew Balzac closely has said of him ; 
they contradict the known facts of the history of himself 
and Madame Hanska; they are, moreover, disloyal to 
friendship in a manner that Balzac's whole conduct in 
life, as evidenced in his correspondence, shows to hâve 
been impossible. 

To bring the question home to ourselves — which of us, 

b 



xviii Translatons Préface. 

after reflection and comparison, can suppose that the 
paltry, immature, contemptibly vulgar stuff of the let- 
ters liere designated as spurious ever came from the 
Drain of the man avIio thought and Avrote the u Comédie 
Humaine "? 

There is sueh a thing as true literary judgment, — as 
unerring as tlie science that sees a mammoth in a bone. 
To that judgment, if to no other, this question may be 
left. The letters are hère in this volume, and the reader 
can judge them for himself. In my opinion they hâve 
been garbled in varions places ; expressions, passages, 
and many whole letters hâve been interpolated, with 
the vulgarity of the hand that garl)led the letter in 
4t Koman d'Amour," for the purpose of supporting the 
slander suggested in that book. 

This is, necessarily, opinion and judgment only; but 
a very remarkable circumstance appears in this volume, 
which should be studicd and judged by readers thoroughly 
informée! about Balzac, his nature, liis character, and his 
writings. 

September 1G, 1<S;U, Balzac writes to Monsieur Ilanski, 
asking him to explain to Madame Ilanska how he came to 
Avrite to lier two love-letters ; thèse letters are not given. 
lie asks lier pardon, lie is grieved, he is mortified (and 
justîy so) ; but the letter is characteristic of a man who 
was honest and brave; the defence rings true. Monsieur 
Ilanski must hâve thought so, for he acceptée! the com- 
mission and so performecl it that Balzac's next letter 
to Madame Ilanska thanks lier for lier pardon, and 
is written in a tone of boyish glee which was emi- 
nently characteristic of him, and coule! not hâve been 
counterfeited. 

From this time there is not a trace of embarrassment 
in his letters ; he does not feei himself withheld from 
expressing his ardent but respectful feelings for Madame 
Hanska; he assures lier, again and again, of her influ- 



Trandators Préface. xix 

ence upon his life, and he sends friendly messages to 
Monsieur Hanski, which are returned in an evidently 
kind and cordial way. 

To the translation of the ' ' Lettres à l'Étrangère " I 
hâve added that of ail the letters to Madame Hanska 
during the rest of Balzae's life which are contained in the 
volume of Correspondence in the Édition Définitive. The 
" Lettres à l'Étrangère" — those, I mean, that are genuine 
— ought, if published at ail, to hâve been shortened. 
They were written to give vent to the émotions of a 
heart and soûl under violent pressure ; perhaps no letters 
exist that ever came so hot from the inner being ; they 
lay bare a soûl that little dreamed of this exposure, for 
the man who wrote them never read them over. For 
this rcason, this lack of editing, the reader will surely 
find them too monotonous in their one long cry ; and yet, 
without them, the world would not hâve known a tragedy 
too great for tears, nor the true history of a hero. 

I should not hâve consented to translate thèse letters 
unless I had been allowed by my publishers to préface 
them with thèse remarks, and give my name and what 
weight my long, close intercourse with Balzac may 
possess in his just defence. 

Katiiarine P. Wormeley. 
The Sater, 
Thorn Mountain. 



LETTERS. 



LETTERS DURING 1833. 

To Madame Hanska. 

Paris, January, 1833. 

Madame, — I entre at y ou to completely separate the 

author from the man, and to believe in the sincerity of 

the sentiments whieh I hâve vagnely expressecl in the 

corresponclence you hâve obligée! me to hold with you. 

In spite of the perpétuai caution which some friends give 

me against certain letters like those which I hâve had 

the honour to receive from you, I hâve been keenly 

touched by a tone that levity cannot counterfeit. If you 

will deign to excuse the folly of a young heart and a 

wholly virgin imagination, I will own that you hâve been 

to me the object of the sweetest drearas ; in spite of my 

hard work I hâve found myself more than once gallop- 

ing through space to hover above the unknown country 

where you, also unknown, live alone of your race. I 

hâve taken pleasure in comprehending you among the 

remains almost always unfortunate of a dispersed people, 

a people scattered thinly over the earth, exiled perhaps 

from heaven, but of whom each being lias language and 

sentiments to him peculiar and unlike those of othermen, 

— delicacy, choiceness of soûl, chasteness of feeling, 



2 Honore de Balzac. [1833 

tenderness of lieart, purer, sweeter, gentler than in tbe best 
of other created beings. There is sometliing saintly in even 
their enthusiasms, and calm in their ardour. Thèse poor 
exiles bave ail, in their voices, their words, their ideas, 
something, I know not what, which distinguishes them 
from others, which serves to bincl them to one another in 
spite of distance, lands, and langnage ; a word, a phrase, 
the very sentiment exhaled in a look are like a rallying 
call which they obey ; and, compatriote of a hidden land 
whose charins are reproduced in their momories, they 
recognize and love one another in the name of that 
conntry toward which they stretch their arms. Poesy, 
music, and religion are their three divinities, their favour- 
ite loves ; and ail thèse passions awake in their hearts 
sensations that are eqnally powerful. 

I hâve clothed \ t ou with ail thèse ideas. I hâve held 
ont to you my h and, fraternally, from afar, withont 
conceit, without affectation, but with a confidence that is 
almost domestic, with sincerity ; and could you hâve sceu 
my glance you would hâve recognized within it both the 
gratitude of a lover and the religions of the heart, — the 
pure tenderness that binds the son to a mother, the brother 
to a sister, the respect of a young man for woman, and the 
delightful hopes of a long and fervent friendship. 

'T was an épisode wholly romantic ; but who will dare 
to blâme the romantic? It is only frigid soûls who can- 
not conceive ail there is of vast in the émotions to w r hich 
the unknown gives full scope. The less we are restrained 
by reality, the higher is the flight of the soûl. I hâve 
therefore let m y self gently float upon my rêveries, and 
they are ravishing. So, if a star darts from your candie, 
if } T our ear should catch a distant murmur, if you see 
figures in the fire, if something sparkles or speaks beside 
you, near you, believe that my spirit is wandering among 
your panels. 

Amid the battle I a m flghting, amid m y heavy toil, m y 



1833] Letters to Madame Hansha. 3 

endless stuclies, in this agîtated Paris, where politics and 
literature absorb some sixteen or eighteen hours of the 
twenty-four, to me, an unfortunate m an, widely différent 
from the author that people imagine, corne charming 
hours wilich I owe to you. So, in order to thank you, I 
dedicated to you the fourth volume of the " Scènes de 
la Vie privée," putting your seal at the head of the iast 
"Scène," which I was writing at the moment when I 
received your first letter. But a person who is a mother 
for me, and whose caprices and even jealousy I am bound 
to respect, exacted that this silent testimony of secret 
sentiments should be suppressed. I hâve the sincerity 
to avow to you both the dedication and its destruction, 
because I believe you hâve a soûl sufficiently lofty not to 
désire a homage which would cause grief to a person as 
noble and grand as she whose child I am, for she pre- 
served me in the midst of griefs and shipwreck where in 
my youth I nearly perished. I live by the heart only, 
and she made me live ! I hâve saved the only copy of 
that dedication for which I was blamed as if it were a 
horrible coquetry ; keep it, madame, as a souvenir and 
by way of thanks. When you reacl the book say to your- 
self that in concluding it and revising it I thought of you 
and of the compositions which you hâve preferred to ail 
the others. Perhaps what I a m doing is wrong ; but the 
purity of my intentions must absolve me. 1 

Lay the things that shock you in my works, madame, 
to the account of that necessity which forces us to strike 
powerfully a blasé public. Having undertaken, rashly.no 
doubt, to re présent the whole of literature by the whole 
of my works; wishing to erect a monument more dur- 
able from the mass and the amassing of materials than 

1 This publication of the " Scènes de la Vie privée " took place in 
May, 1832, nine months before Mme. Hanska's first letter reached Bal- 
zac. The above passage must therefore bave been forged and interpo- 
lated hère ; probably to bring this letter into line with a taie in " Roman 
d'Amour" (pp. 55-59), which the same dates prove tobefalse. — Tr. 



4 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

from the beauty of the édifice, I am obligée! to represent 
everything, that I may not be accusée! of want of power. 
But if you knew me personally, if my solitary life, my 
days of study, privation, and toil were told to you, you 
would lay aside sonne of your accusations and pereeivc 
more tlian one antithesis between tîie man and liis writ- 
ings. Certainly there are some works in wilich I like to 
bc myself ; but you can guess them ; tliey are those in 
which the lieart speaks ont. My fate is to paint the 
happiness that others feel ; to désire it in perfection, 
but never to meet it. Noue but those who suffer can 
paint joy, because we express botter tliat which we con- 
çoive than that we hâve experiencod. 

See to vvliat this confidence lias drawn me î But, 
thinking of ail the countries that lie l>ot\veen us, I darc 
not be brief. Bosidos, evonts are ko gloomy around my 
friends and myself î Civilization is threatened; arts, 
sciences, and progress are threatened. 1 myself, the 
organ of a vanquished party roprosonting ail no])le and 
religions ideas, ï a m already the objeet of lively hatred. 
The more that is hoped from my voice, the more it is 
feared. And under thèse circumstances, when a man is 
thirty yoars old and lias not worn ont his life or his lieart, 
with what passion lie grasps a friendly word, a tender 
speech ! . . . 

Perhaps youwill never reçoive anything from me again, 
and the friendship you hâve created may be like a flower 
perishing unknown in the depths of a wood by a stroke of 
lightnmg. Know, at loast, that it was true, and sin- 
cère ; you are, in a young and stainless lieart, what every 
woman must désire to be — respectée! and adored. Hâve 
you not shed a perf ume on my hours ? Do I not owe to 
you one of those encouragements which make us accept 
hard toil, the drop of water in the désert? 

If events respect me, and in spite of excursions to 
which my life as poet and artist condemn me, you can, 



18^3] Lettcrs to Madame Hamka. 5 

madame, address your letters "Rue Cassini, No. 1, near 
the Observatory " — unless indeed I bave bad tbe misf or- 
tune to displease you by tbis candid expression of tbe 
feelings I bave for you. 

Accept, madame, my respeetful bornage. 

Paris, end of January, 1833. 

Pardon me tbe delay of my answer. I returned to 
Paris only in December last, and I found your letter in 
Paris awaiting me. But once bere, I was sbarply seized 
by crushing toii and violent sorrows. 1 I must be silent as 
to tbe sorrows and tbe toil. None but God and myself will 
ever know tbe dreadful energy a beart requires to be f ull 
of tears repressed, and yet suiïice for literary labours. To 
spend one's soûl in melancboly, and yet to occupy it ever 
with fictitious joys and sorrows ! To write cold dramas, 
and keep witbin us a clrama tbat burns botb beart and 
brain ! But let us leave ail tbis. I am alone ; I am now shut 
up at home for a long time, possibly a year. I bave already 
endured tbese voluntary incarcérations in tbe mime of sci- 
ence and of poverty ; to-day, troubles are my jailers. 

I bave more tban once turned my tbought to you. 
But I must still be silent ; tbese are follies. I bave one 
regret; it is to bave boasted to you of " Louis Lambert," 
tbe saddest of ail abortions. I bave just employed nearly 
tbree months in remaking tbat book, and it is nowappear- 
ing in a little 18mo volume, of wbicb there is a spécial copy 
for you ; it will await your orders and sball be given, with 
tbe Cbénier, to tbe person wbo calls for tbem ; or they 
sball be sent wberever you write to me to forward tbem. 

Tbis work is still incomplète, tbougb it bears tbis time 
tbe pompous title of kt Histoire Intellectuelle de Louis Lam- 
bert." When this édition is exhausted, I will publish 
another " Louis Lambert" more complète. 

1 This letter is inconsistent with the preceding one, also dated 
January, 1833. A System of arbitrary dating is tlius shown. — Tr. 



6 Honoré de Balzac. [i$;j:i 

I tell you naively ail that you want to knovv about me. 
I am still waiting for you to speak to me with equal con- 
fidence. You are afraid of ridicule? And of whose? 
That of a poor child, victim yesterday and victirn to-mor- 
row of his féminine bashfuiness, his shyness, his beliefs. 
You hâve asked me with distrust to give an explanation 
of înytwo handwiïtings ; butl hâve as niany handwritings 
as tliere are days in the year, without being on that account 
the least in the world versatile. This mobility cornes from 
an imagination which can conceive ail and yet remain vir- 
gin, like glass which is soiied by noue of its rellections. 
The glass is in my brain. But my heart, my heart is known 
but to one womaii in the world as yet, — the et mine et sem- 
2>erdileetœ dkatum of the dedication of " Louis Lambert/' 
Ties eternal and ties broken ! Do not blâme me. You 
ask me how we can love, live, and lose each other while 
stiil loving. That is a mystery of life of which you know 
nothing as yet, and L hope you ne ver may know it. In 
that sad destiny no blâme can be attaehed except to l'ate ; 
there are two unfortunates, but they are two irreproach- 
able unfortunates. There is no fault to absolve because 
tliere is no cause to blâme. I cannot add another word. 

I am very curions to know if '"La Femme abandon- 
née," tc La Grenadière," the Ck Lettre à Nodier " (in which 
there are enormous typographical errors), tlie u Voyage 
à Java," and u Les Maranas " hâve pleased you? . . . 

Some days after receiving this letter you will read u Une 
Fille d'Eve," who will be the type of the u La Femme aban- 
donnée," taken between fifteen and twenty years of âge. 

At this moment I am flnishing a work that is quifce 
evangelical, and which seems to me the " Imitation of 
Jésus Christ" poetized. It bears an epigra[)h which will 
tell the disposition of mind I w r as in when writing the 
book : To irounded Jiearts, silence and shade. One must 
hâve sufïered to understand that line to its full extent ; 
and one must also hâve suffered as much as I hâve donc 
to give birth to it in a day of mourning. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 7 

I liave flung myself into work, as Empedocles into the 
crater, to stay there.. " La Bataille " will corne after " Le 
Médecin de campagne "(the book I hâve just told youof) ; 
and is there not something to shudder at when I tell you 
that " La Bataille " is an impossible book? In it I under- 
take to initiate the reader into ail the horrors and ail the 
beauties of a battle-field ; my battle is Essling, Essling 
with ail its conséquences. Tins book requires that a man, 
in cold blood, seated in his chair, shall see the country, the 
lay of the land, the masses of men, the stratégie events, 
the Danube, the bridges ; shall behold the détails and the 
whole of the struggle, hear the artillery, pay attention to 
ail the movements on the chess-board ; see ail, and feel, 
in each articulation of the great body, Napoléon — whom 
I shall not show, or shall oui y allow to be seen, in the 
evening, crossing the Danube in a boat ! Not a woman's 
head; camion, horses, two armies, uniforms. On the 
first page the camion roars, and never ceases until the 
last. You reacl through smoke, and, the book closed, 
you hâve seen it ail intuitive^ ; you remember the battle 
as if you had been présent at it. 

It is now three months that I hâve been measuring 
swords with that work, that ode in two volumes, which 
persons on ail sides tell me is impossible! 

I work eighteen hours a day. I hâve perceived the 
faults of style which disfigure " La Peau de Chagrin." I 
corrected the m to make it irreproachable ; but after two 
months' labour, the volume being reprinted, I discover 
another hundred faults. Such are the sorrows of a 
poet. 

It is the same thing w^ith " Les Chouans." I hâve 
rewritten that book entirely ; but the second édition, 
which is coming out, has still many spots upon it. 

On ail sides they shout to me that I do not know how 
to write ; and that is cruel when I hâve already told my- 
self so, and hâve consecrated my dîiys to new works, using 



8 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

my nîghts to perfect the old ones. Like the bears, I 
am now licking the " Scènes de la Vie privée" and the 
" Physiologie du Mariage ; " after which I shall révise the 
"Etudes Philosophiques." 

As ail my passions, ail my beliefs are defeated, as my 
dreams are dispersed, I am forced to create myself pas- 
sions, and I choose that of art. I live in my studies. I 
wish to do better. 1 weigh my phrases and my words as 
a miser weighs his bits of gold. What love I thus waste ! 
What happiness is flung to the winds î My laborious 
youth, my long studies will not hâve the sole reward I 
desired for them. Ever since I hâve breathed and known 
what a pure breath coming from pure lips was, I hâve de- 
sired the love of a young and pretty woman ; y et ail lias 
fled me ! A fevv years more and youth will be a memory ! 
I am Higible to the Chamber under the new law which 
ahV .- u- ,o be nien at thirty years of âge, and certainly 
':» •« f w y(:u-s the recollections of youth will bring me no 

ys. \ s aI then, what hope that I could obtain at forty 
i iifit. which I hâve missed at twenty? She who is averse to 
me, being young, will she be less reluctantthen? But you 
cannot understand thèse moans, — you, young, solitary, 
living a country life, far from our Parisian world which 
excites the passions so violently, and where ail is so great 
and so petty. I ought still to keep thèse lamentations in 
the depths of my heart. . . . 

You hâve asked my friendship for a youth ; I thought 
of you yesterday in fulfilling a promise of the same kind 
and devoting myself to a young man whom I hope to em- 
bark upon a fine and noble life. You are right; there is 
a moment in the life of young men when a friendly heart 
can be very precious. In the park of Versailles is a 
statue of " Achilles between Vice and Virtue," which seems 
to me a great work, and I hâve always thought, wdien 
looking at it, of that critical moment in human life. Yes, 
a young man needs a courageous voice to dravv him to the 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 9 

life of manhood while allowing him to gather the flowers 
of passion that bloom along the waysicle. 

You will not laugh at me, you, who hâve written to me 
so noble a page and Unes so melancholy, in winch I hâve 
believed. You are one of those idéal figures to whom I 
give the right to corne at times and nebulously pose amid 
my flowers, who smile to me between two camellias, wav- 
ing aside a rosy heather, and to whom I speak. 

You fear the dissipations of the winter for me? Alasî 
ail that I know of the impressions I can prodnce, cornes 
to me in a few letters from kind soûls which set me glow- 
ing. I never leave my study, tllled with books ; I am alone, 
and I listen and wish to listen to no one. I hâve such 
pain in uprooting from my heart my hopes ! They must 
be torn out, one by one, root by root, like flax. To re- 
nounce Woman ! — my sole terrestrial religion ! 

Y"ou wish to know if I ever met Fedora ; if she is true. 
A woman of cold Russia, the Princess Bagration, is sup- 
posed in Paris to be the model of lier. I hâve reaehed 
the seventieth woman who bas the coolness to recognize 
herself in that character. They are ail of ripe âge. 
Even Madame Récamier is wliling to fedorize herself. 
Not a word of ail that is true. I made Fedora out of 
two women whom I hâve known without ever being inti- 
mate with them. Observation sufïiced me, and a few 
confidences. 

There are also some kind soûls who will hâve it that I 
hâve courted the handsomest of Parisian courtesaus and 
hâve hid, like Raphaël, behind her curtains. Thèse are 
calumnies. I hâve met a Fedora ; but that one I shall not 
paint; besides, the " La Peau de chagrin " was published 
before I knew her. 

I must bid you adieu, and what an adieu ï This letter 
may be a month on its way ; you will hold it in your 
hands, but I may never see you, — you whom I caress as 
an illusion, who are in my dreams like a hope, and who 



10 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

hâve so graciously embodied my rêveries. You do not 
know what it is to people the solitude of a poet with a 
gentle figure, the form of which attraets by the very 
vagueness which the indefinite lends it. A solitary, ar- 
dent heart takes eagerly to a ehimera when it is realî 
IIow many times I hâve travelled the road that séparâtes 
us! what delightful romances! and what postal charges 
do I not spend at my fi réside ! 

Adieu, then ; I hâve given you a whole night, a night 
which belonged to my legitimate wife, the " Revue de 
Paris," that erabbed spouse. Consequently the " Théorie 
de la Démarche," which I owed to lier must be postponed 
till the month of Mardi, and no one will know why; you 
and I alone are in the secret. The article was tliere be- 
fore me — a science to elucidate; it was arduous, I was 
afraid of it. Your letter slipped into my memory, and 
suddenly I put my feet to the embers, forgot myself in 
my arm-chair, — and adieu " La Démarche;" behold me 
galloping towards Poland, and re-reading your letters (I 
hâve but three) — and now I answer them. I defy you 
to read two months lience the u Théorie de la Démarche" 
without smiling at every sentence ; because beneath those 
senseless foolish phrases there are a thousand thoughts 
of you. 

Adieu. T hâve so Jittle time that you must absolve 
me. Tliere are but three persons whose letters I answer. 
This souncls a little like French conceit, and yet it is 
really most délicate in the way of modes ty. More than 
that, I meant to tell you that you are almost alone in my 
heart, grandparents excepted. 

Adieu. If my rose-tree were not out of bîoom I would 
send you a petal. If you were less fairy-like, less capri- 
cious, less mysterious, I would say "write to me often." 

P. S. The black seal was an accident I was not at 
home, and the friend with whom I was staying at Angou- 
leme was in mouruinii;. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hamka. 11 

Paris, Eebruary 24, 1833. 

Certainly there is some good genius between us ; I clare 
not say otherwise, for how else eau one explain that you 
should hâve sent me the "Imitation of Jésus Christ" 
just when I was working night and day at a book in 
which I bave tried to dramatize the spirit of that work by 
conforming it to the desires of the civilization of our 
epoch. How is it that you kad the thought to send it to 
me when I had that of putting its méditative poesy into 
action, so that aeross wide space the saintly volume, ac- 
companied by an escort of gentle thoughts, should hâve 
corne to me as I was casting myself into the delightful 
fields of a religions idea ; coming too, at a moment when, 
w r eary and discouraged, I despaired of being able to 
accomplish this magnificent w r ork of charity ; beautiful 
in its results — if only my efforts should not prove in 
vain. Oh! give me the right to send you in a month or 
two my " Médecin de campagne " with the Chénier and the 
new " Louis Lambert,'' in which I will write the last cor- 
rections. Mybook will not appear till the first of March. 
I do not choose to send you that ignoble édition. A few 
weeks after its appearance I shall hâve still another ready, 
and I can then offer you something more worthy of you. 
The same line of thought présentée! itself to me in ail 
of them, — poesy, religion, intellect, those three great 
principies will be united in thèse three books, and 
their pilgrimage towarcl you will be fulnller!; ail my 
thoughts are assembled in them, and if you will clraw 
from that source there will be for you, in me, something 
inexhaustible. 

Now I know that my book will please you. You send 
me the Christ upon the cross, and I, T hâve made him 
bearing his cross. There lies the idea of the book: 
résignation and love ; faith in the future and the shed- 
ding of the fragrance of benefits around us. What joy 
for a man to hâve at last been able to do a work in which 



12 Honore de Balzac. [1833 

lie can be himself, in whieh he may pour out his soûl 
without fear of ridicule, beeause in serving tbe passions 
of the mol) he lias conquered the right, dearly bought, of 
being heard in a day of grave thought. Hâve you read 
" Juana"? Tell nie if she pleases you. 

You hâve awakened many diverse euriosities in me ; 
you are capable of a delightful coquetry winch it is im- 
possible to blâme. But you do not know how dangerous 
it is to a lively imagination and a heart misunderstood, a 
heart full of rejected tenderness, to behold thus nebulously 
a young and beau ti fui woman. In spite of thèse dangers, 
I yield myself willingiy to hopes of the heart. My grief 
is to be able to speak to you of yourseïf as only a hope, 
a dream of heaven and of ail tliat is beautiful. I can 
therefore tell you only of myself ; but T abandon myself 
with you to my most secret thoughts, to my despairs, to 
my hopes. You are a second conscience ; less reproachful 
perhaps and more kindly than that which rises so imperi- 
ously within me at evil moments. 

Well, then î I will speak of myself, since it must bc 
so. I liave met with one of tliosc immense sorrows whieh. 
only artîsts know. After three months' labour I re-made 
" Louis Lambert." Yesterday, a friend, one of thosc 
friends who nevcr deceive, who tell you the truth, came, 
scalpel in hand, and we studied my work together. Ile 
is a logical man, of severe taste, incapa])le of doing any- 
thing himself, but a most profound grammarian, a stern 
professor, and he showed me a thousand faults. That 
evening, alone, I wept with despair in that species of 
rage which seizes the heart when Vv T e recognize our faults 
after toiling so long. "Well, I shall set to work again, 
and in a month or two I will bring forth a corrected 
"■ Louis Lambert." "Wait for tha.t. Let me send you, 
when it is ready, a new and fine édition of the four 
volumes of the Philosophical taies. I am preparing it. 
ct J>a Veau de chagrin," already corrected, is to be again 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 13 

correctecl. If ail is not then made perfect, at least it will 
be les s ugly. 

Always labour! My life is passed in a monk's cell — 
but a pretty cell, at an y rate. I seldom go ont ; I bave 
many personal annoyances, like ail rnen who live by the 
altar instead of beiug able to worship it. How many 
things I do which I woulcl fain renounce ! But the time 
of my deliverance is not far off ; and then I sliall be able 
to slowly accomplish my work. 

How impatient I am to finish "Le Médecin de campagne," 
that I may know what you think of it — for you will read 
it no doubt before you receive your own copy. It is the 
history of a m an faithful to a despised love, to a woman 
who did not love him, who broke his heart by coquetry ; 
but that story is only an épisode. Instead of killing 
himself, the man casts off his life like a garaient, takes 
another existence, and in place of making himself a monk, 
he becomes the sister of mercy of a poor canton, which he 
civilizes. At this moment I am in the paroxysm of com- 
position, and I can only speak well of it. When it is 
finished you will receive the despairs of a man who sees 
only its faults. 

If you knew with what force a solitary soûl whom no 
one wants springs toward a true affection ! I love you, 
unknown woman, and this fantastic thing is only the 
natural effect of a life that is empty and unhappy, which 
I hâve filled with ideas only, dimiuishing its misfortunes 
by chimerical pleasures. If this présent adventure ought 
to happen to any one it should to me. I am like a pris- 
oner who, in the depths of his dungeon, hears the sweet 
voice of a woman. He puts ail his soûl into a faint yet 
powerful perception of that voice, and after his long 
hours of revery, of hopes, after voyages of imagination, 
the woman, beautiful and young, kills him — so complète 
would be the happiness. You will think this folly ; it is 
the truth, and far below the truth, because the heart, 



14 Honore de Balzac [isa:* 

the imagination, the romance of the passions of which my 
works give an idea are very far below the heart, the 
imagination, the romance of the man. And I eau say 
tliis without conçoit, because ail those qualities are to me 
misfortunes. After ail, no one attaches himself with 
greater love to the poesy of this sentiment at once so 
chimerical and so true. It is a sort of religion, higher 
than earth, less high than heaveiï. I like to often turn 
my eyes toward thèse unknown skies, in an unknown 
land, and gather some new strength by thinking that there 
may be sure rewards for me, when I do well. 

Rememher, therefore, that there is herc, between a 
Carmélite couvent and the Place where the exécutions 
take place, a poor being whose joy you are, — an innocent 
joy according to social laws, but a very eriminal one if 
measured by the weight of affection. I take too much, I 
assure you, and you would not ratify my dreamy couquests 
if it were possible to tell you my dreams, dreams which I 
know to be impossible, but which please me so much. To 
go where no one in the world knows where I am, — to go 
into your country, to pass before you unknown, to see you, 
and return hère to write and tell you/' You arc thus and 
so ! " Ilow many Unies hâve I enjoved this delightfui 
fancy — I, attached by a myriad lilliputian bonds to 
Paris, I, whose independence is fore ver being postponed, 
F, who cannot travel except in thouglit ! It is yours, 
that thouglit ; but, in mercy and in the name of that 
affection which I will not characterize because it makes 
me too happy, tell me that you write to no one in France 
but me. This is not distrust nor jealousy ; although both 
sentiments prove love, I think that the suspicions tliey 
imply are always dishououring. No, the motive is a 
sentiment of celestial perfection which ought to be in you 
and which I inwardly feel there. I know it, but I would 
fain be sure. 

Adieu; pitiless editors, newspapers, etc., are hère; 



1833] Letters to Madame ITanska. 15 

time fails me for ail I hâve to do ; there is but a single 
thing for which I can always find time. Will you be 
kind, charitable, gracious, excellent? You surely know 
some person who can make a sepia sketch. Send me a 
faithful copy of the room where you write, where you 
think, where you are you — for, you know well, there are 
moments when we are more ourselves, when the mask is 
no longer on us. I am very bold, very indiscreet ; but 
this désire will tell you many things, and, after ail, I 
swear it is very innocent. 

In the month of May two young Frenchmen who are 
going to Russia can leave with the person you may indi- 
cate, in any town you indicate, the parcel containing André 
Chénier, my poor " Louis Lambert" and your copy of 
44 Le Médecin de campagne." Write me promptly on this 
subject. ïhey are two young men who are not inquiring; 
they will do it as a matter of business. Objects of art 
are not exposed to the brutalities of the custom-house 
and you will permit a poor artist to send you a few spéci- 
mens of art. They are only precious from the species of 
perfection that artists who love each other give to their 
work for a brother's sake. At any rate, allow Paris the 
right to be proud of her worship of art. You will enjoy 
the gift because none but you and I in the world will 
know that this book, this copy is the solitary one of its 
kind. The seal I h ad engraved upon it is lost. It came 
to me defaced by rubbing against other letters. You will 
be very generous to send me an impression inside of your 
reply. 

Ail this shows that I am occupied with you, and you 
will not refuse to increase my pleasures ; they are so 
rare ! 

Paris, end of March; 1833. 

I bave told you something of my life ; I hâve not told 
you ail; but you will hâve seen enough to understand 



1(3 Honoré de Balzac, [1833 

that I bave no thne to do evil, uo leisure to let my- 
self go to happiness. Gifted with excessive sensibility, 
baving lived mucli in solitude, the constant ill-fortune of 
my life lias been tbe élément of wbat is called so im- 
properly talent. I a m provided with a great power of 
observation, because I bave been cast among ail sorts 
of professions, involuntarily. Thon, when I went into 
tbe upper régions of society, I suîfered at ail points of 
my soûl which suffering can touch ; tbere are noue but 
soûls that are misunderstood, and the poor, who can 
really observe, because everything bruises the m, and 
observation results from suffering. Memory only regis- 
ters thoroughly that which is pain. In this sensé it 
recalls great joy, for pleasure cornes very near to being 
pain. Thus society in ail its phases from top to bottom, 
législations, religions, historiés, the présent times, ail 
hâve been observed and analyzed by me. My one pas- 
sion, always disappointed, at least in the development I 
gave to it, bas made me observe women, study thein, 
know them, and cherish them, without other recompense 
than that of being understood at a distance by great and 
noble hearts. I bave written my desires, my dreams. 
But the f arther I go, the more I rebel against my f ate. 
At thirty-four years of âge, after having constantly 
worked fourteen and iifteen hours a day, I bave already 
white hairs without ever being loved by a young and 
pretty woman ; that is sad. My imagination, virile as it 
is, having ne ver been prostituted or jaded, is an enemy 
for me ; it is always in keepi ng with a young and pure 
heart, violent with repressed desires, so that the slightest 
sentiment cast into my solitude makes ravages. I love 
you already too much without ever having seen you. 
There are certain phrases in your letters which rnake my 
heart beat. If you knew with what ardour I spring 
toward that which I bave so long desired ! of what dévo- 
tion I feel myself capable! what happiness it would be 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 17 

to me to subordinate my life for a single day! to remain 
without seeing a living soûl for a year, for a single hour! 
Ail that woman eau dream of that is most délicate, most 
romantic, finds in my heart, not an écho but, an in- 
credible simultaneousness of thought. Forgive me this 
pride of misery, this naïveté of suffering. 

You hâve asked me the baptismal name of the dilecta 
[Mme. de Berny]. In spite of my complète and blind 
faith, in spite of my sentiment for you, I cannot tell it 
to you ; I hâve ne ver told it. Wouid you hâve faith in 
me if I told it? No. 

You ask me to send you a plan of the place I live in. 
Listen: in one of the fortheoming numbers of Regnier's 
"Album" (I will go and see him on the subject) he 
shall put in my house for you, oh ! solely for you ! It is 
a sacrifice ; it is distastef ul to me to be put en évidence. 
How little those who accuse me of vanity know me ! I 
hâve never desired to see a journalist, for I should blush 
to solicit an article. For the last eight months I hâve 
resisted the entreaties of Schnetz and Scheffer, author 
of " Faust" who wish extremely to make my portrait. 

Yesterday I said in jest to Gérard, who spoke to me of 
the same thing, that I was not a sufïîciently fine fish to be 
put in oils. You will receive herewith a little sketch 
made by an artist of my study. But I am rather dis- 
turbed in sending it to you because I dare not believe in 
ail that your request offers me of joy and happiness. 
To live in a heart is so glorious a life ! To be able to 
name you secretly to myself in evil hours, when I suffer, 
when I am betrayed, misunderstood, calumniated! To 
be able to retire to you ! -. . . This is a hope that goes 
too far beyond me ; it is the adoration of God by monks, 
the Ave Maria written in the cell of a Chartreux, — an 
inscription which once made me stand at the Grande- 
Chartreuse, beneath a vault, for ten minutes. Oh ! love 
me! Ail that you désire of what is noble, true, pure, 

2 



18 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

will be in a heart that has borne many a blow, but is îiot 
blasted ! 

That gentleman was very unjust. 1 drink nothing but 
coffee. I hâve never known what drunkenness was, ex- 
cept froin a eigar wliich Eugène Sue niade me smoke 
against jny will, and It was that wliich enabled me to paint 
the drunkenness for whieh you blâme me, in the " Voyage 
à Java." Eugène Sue is a kind and amiable young man, 
a braggart of vices, in despair at being named Sue, living 
in luxury to make himself a great seigneur, but for ail 
that, though a Utile worn-out, worth more than his works, 
I dare not speak to you of Nodier, lest I should destroy 
your illusions. His artistic caprices stain that purity of 
honour wliich is the ehastity of men. But when one knows 
him, one forgives him his disorderly life, his vices, his 
laek of conscience for his home. Ile is a true child of 
nature after the fashion of La Fontaine. I hâve just 
returned from Madame de Girardin's (Delphine Gay). 
She has the small-pox. lier celebrated beauty is now in 
danger. This distresses me for Emile, lier husband, and 
for lier. She h ad been vaccinated; présent science dé- 
clares that one ought to be vaccinated every twenty years. 

I hâve returned home to write to you under the empire 
of a violent annoyance. Ont of low envy the editor of 
the u Ivevue de Paris " postpones for a week my third 
number of the * fc Histoire des Treize."' Fifteeii days' in- 
terval will kill the interest in it, and I had worked day 
and night to avoid any delay. For this last affair, which 
is the drop of water in too full a cup, I shall probably 
cease ail collaboration in the " Revue de Paris." I am 
so disgusted by the tricky enmity which broods there for 
me that I shall retire from it ; and if I retire, it will be 
forever. To a certain degree my will is cast in bronze, 
and nothing can make me change it. In reading the 
"Histoire" in the Mardi number, you will never suspect 
the base and unworthy annoyances which hâve been in- 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 19 

stigated against me in the inner courts of that review. 
They bargain for me as if I vvere a faney article ; some- 
times they play me monkey tricks [malices de nègre] ; 
sometimes insults upon me are anonymously put into the 
Album of the Revue ; at other times they fall at my feet, 
basely. When " Juana" appearcd, they iriserted a notice 
that made me pass for a madman. 

Butwhy should I tell yon thèse misérable things? The 
joke is that they represent me as being unpunctual ; 
promising, and not keeping my promises. Two years 
ago, Sue quarrelled with a bad courtesan, celebrated for 
lier beauty (she is the original of Vernet's Judith). I 
iowered myself to reconeile them, and the conséquence 
is the woman is given to me. M. de Fitz-James, the 
Duc de Duras, and the old court, ail went to lier house 
to taik, as on neutral ground, much as people walk in the 
alley of the Tuileries to meet one another ; and I am ex- 
pected to be more strait-laced than those gentlemen! In 
short, by some fatal chance I can't take a step that is 
not interpreted as evil. What a punishment is celebrity ! 
But, indeed, to publish one's thoughts, is it not prosti- 
tuting them? If I h ad been rich and happy they should 
ail hâve been kept for my love. 

Two years ago, among a few friends, I used to tell 
stories in the evening, after midnight. I hâve given 
that up. Therewas danger of my passing for an amuser; 
and I should hâve lost considération. Atevery step there 
is a pitfall. So now 1 hâve retired into silence and soli- 
tude. I needed the great déception with which ail Paris 
is now busy to fling myself into this other extremity. 
There is still a Metternich in this adventure ; but this 
thne it is the son, who died in Florence. I hâve already 
told you of this cruel affair, and I h ad no right to tell 
you. Though separated from that person out of delicacy, 
ail is not over yet. I suffer through lier ; but I do not 
judge lier. Only, I think that if you loved some one, and 



20 Honoré de Balzac. 1 1833 

if you had daily drawn that person towards you into 
heaven, and you beeame free, you would not leave liiai 
alone at tlie bottom of an icy abyss after having warmed 
him with the lire of your soûl. But forget ail that; 1 
hâve spoken to you as to my own eonseiousness. Do not 
betray a soûl that takes refuge in yours. 

You liave mueli courage! you bave a great and lofty 
soûl; do not tremble before any one, or you will be un- 
happy ; you will meet in life with cireumstances that will 
make you grieve that you did not know how to obtain 
ail the power wilich you ought to hâve had and înight 
liave had. What I tell you now is the fruit of the expé- 
rience of a vvonian advanced in years and purely religious. 
But, above ail, no useless imprudence. Do not pronounce 
my naine ; let me be torn in pièces; i do not care for 
such criticism, provided I can live in two or three hearts 
whieh I value more thau the whole world beside. I pre- 
fer one of your letters to the famé of Lord Byron be- 
stowed by universal approbation. My vocation on this 
earth is to love, even without hope ; provided, neverthe- 
less, I um a little loved also. 

Jules Saudeau is a young niait. George S and is a 
woman. I was interested in both, because I thought it 
sublime in a woman to leave everything to folio w a poor 
young nian whom she loved. This woman, whose name 
is Mme. Dudevant, ])roves to hâve a great talent. It was 
nccessary to save Bandeau froin the conscription; they 
wrote a book between them; the book is good. I liked 
thèse two loyers, lodging at the top of a house on the quai 
Saint-Micliel, proud and happy. Madame Dudevant had 
lier children with lier. Note that point. Famé arrivée!, 
and cast trouble into the dove-cote. Madame Dudevant 
asserted that she ought to leave it on account of lier 
children. They sépara ted ; and this séparation is, as I 
believe, founded on a new affection winch George Sand, 
or Madame Dudevant, lias taken for the most malignant 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 21 

of our contemporaines, H. de L. [Henri de Latouche], 
one of my former friends, a most seductive man, but 
odiously bad. If I had no other proof than Madame 
Duclevant's estrangement from me, who received lier 
fraternally with Jules Sandeau, it would be enough. She 
now fires epigrams against lier former liost, so tliat 
yesterday I found Sandeau in despair. This is liow it is 
with the author of ' 4 Valentine " and " Indiana," about 
whom y ou ask me. 

There is no one, artist or literary person, whom I do 
not know in Paris, and for the last ten years I hâve 
known many things, and things so sad to know that 
disgust of thèse people lias seized my heart. They hâve 
made me understand Rousseau, they cannot pardon me 
for knowing them; they pardon neither my avoidance of 
them nor my franknesSo But there are some impartial 
persons who are beginning to speak truth. My name is 
Honoré, and I wish to be faithful to my name. 

What mud ail this is! and, as you write me, man is a 
perverse animal. I do not complain, for heaven h as 
given me three hearts : la dilecta [Madame de Berny], 
the lady of Augoulême [Mme. Carraud] and a friend 
[Auguste Borget] who is at this moment making a sketch 
of my stndy for you, withont knowing for whom it is ; 
and thèse three hearts, besicles my sister and you, — you 
who can now T do so much for my life, my soûl, my heart, 
my m nul, you who can save the future from a past given 
over to suffering, — are my only riches. You will hâve 
the right to say that Balzac is diffuse, not quoting from 
Voltaire, but of your own knowledge. 

At this moment of writing, you must hâve read 
u Juana," and hâve, perhaps, given lier a tear. In the 
last cliapter there are sentences in which we can well 
understand each other: u melancholies not understood 
even by those who hâve caused them," etc., etc. 

Do you not think that 1 hâve said too much good of 



22 Honoré de Balzac [is.°>a 

rr^self and too much cvil of others? Po not suppose, 
however, that ail are gangrened, Jf II . . ., married for 
love and having beautiful ehildrcn. îs in the arms of an 
infamous eourtesan, thcre is in Paris Monsieur Monteil, 
the autlior of a Une vork [•■ L'Histoire des Français des 
divers états aux cinq dernier--. Mccii-s"j, wiio is living 
on bread and milk, refusing a pension whieh lie thinks 
ougiit not to be gîven to liini. There are fine and noble 
eharacfers ; rare, but there are soin* 1 . Scribe is a man of 
honour and courage. I should havo to niake you a whole 
history of literary men ; it would not be too beautiful. 

I entreat you to tell me, vith that litUnns/i, prctty 
style of y ours, how you pass your life, hour by liour; 
lot me share it ail. Describe to me the places you live 
in, even to the colours of the furniture. You otight to 
keep a journal and send it to me regularly. In spite of 
my occupations I wili write you a liue every day. It is 
so sweet to confide ail to a kind and beautiful soûl, as 
one does to God. 

To put a stop to some of your illusions, I si) ail bave a 
sketch raade of the " Médecin de campagne " and you will 
find in it the features, perhaps a little carieatured, of the 
autlior. Tins is to be a secret befween you and me. I 
hâve been thinking how to send you tliis cop^y vnicn it is 
ready. I think I hâve found the most natural vray, and 
I will tell it to you, unless you invent a 1 setter. 

Grant my requests for the détails of your life; so that 
when my thouglit turns towanls you it may meet you, 
see that work-frame, the fîower begun. and follow you 
through ail your hours. If you knew how often wearied 
thought needs a repose that is partly active, how beneii- 
cent to me is the gentle revery that begins: "• She is 
there! now she is looking at sueh or sueh a thing." 
And I — I eau give to thought the facuïty to spring 
through space with force enough to abolish it. Thèse 
are my only pleasures amid continuai work. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 23 

I hâve not room to explain to you hère what I hâve 
undertaken to aecomplish this year. In January next 
you eau judge if 1 hâve beeu able to leave my study 
much. And yet I would like to find two months in 
which to travel for rest. You ask me for information 
about Sache. Sache is the remains of a castîe on the 
Indre, in one of the most delicious valleys of Touraine. 
The proprietor, a man of iifty-five, used to dandle me 
on his knee. He lias a pious and intolérant wife, 
rather deformed and not élever. I go there for him ; 
and besides, I am free there. They accept me through- 
out the région as a child ; I hâve no value whatever, and 
I am happy to be there, like a monk in a monastery. I 
walk about meditating serions works. The sky is so 
pure, the oaks so fine, the calm so vast ! A league away 
is the beautiful château d'Azay, built by Samblançay, 
one of the finest architectural things that we possess. 
Farther on is Usse, so famous from the novel of tc Petit 
Jehan de Saintré." Sache is six leagues from Tours. 
But not awoman! nota conversation possible! It is your 
Ukraine without your music and your literature. But 
the more a soûl full of love is restricted physically, the 
more it rises toward the heavens. That is one of the 
secrets of cell and solitude. 

, Be generous; tell me much of yourself, just as I tell 
you much of myself. It is a means of exchanging lives. 
But let there be no déceptions. I hâve trembler! in 
writing to you, and hâve said to myself: " Will this be 
a fresh bitterness? Will the heavens open to me once 
more only to drive me ont? " 

TVell, adieu, you who are one of my secret consolations, 
you, toward s wiiom my soûl, my thoughts are flying. Do 
you know that you address a spirit wholly féminine, and 
that what you forbid me tempts me immensely? You 
forbid me to see you? "What a sweet folly it would be to 
do so ! It is a crime which I would make you pardon by 



24 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

tbe gift of my life ; I would like to spend it in deserving 
that pardon. But fear nothing ; necessity cnts my 
wings. I ara fastened to my glèbe as your serfs to the 
soil. But I hâve cominitted the crime a hundred times in 
thought! You owe me compensation. 

Adieu! I hâve coniided to you the secrets of my life; 
it is as if I told y on that you hâve my soûl. 

Parts, May 29-June 1, 183.3. 

I hâve to-day, May 29, received your last letter-journal, 
and I hâve made ai-rangements to answer it as you wish. 
In the rirst place I hâve finally discovered a paper thin 
enough to send you a journal the weight of wilich shall 
not excite the distrust of ail the governments through 
which it passes. Next, I resign myself , from attachment 
to your sovereigu orders, to assume this fatiguing little 
handwriting, intended for you speeially. Hâve I undcr- 
stood you, my dear star? for there are fearful distances 
between us, and you shine, pure and bright, upon mylife, 
like the fantastic star attributed to every human beiug by 
the astrologers of the middle âges. 

Where are you going? You tell me nothing about it. 
To hâve ail the requirements of a sentiment so grand, 
so vast, and not to hâve its confidence, is not that very 
wrong? You owe me ail your thoughts. I am jealous of 
them. 

If I hâve l)een long without writiug to you it is be- 
cause I hâve awaited your answer to my letters, being 
ignorant as to whether you received them. Even now I 
do not know where t<> address the letter I am beginning. 
Then, this is what lias happened to me: from Mardi to 
April I paid off my agreement with the u Revue de Paris " 
with a composition entitled, ''Histoire des Treize," 
which kept me working day and niglit; to this were 
joined vexations ; I felt fatigued, and I went to spend 
some time in the South, at Angouleme; there I remained, 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 25 

stretchecl on a sofa, much petted by a friend of my sis- 
ter, of whom I think I bave already told you; and I 
became sufficiently rested to résume my work. 

I found in my new dizain and in the "Médecin de 
campagne " untold difiiculties. Thèse two works (still in 
press) absorb my nights and days ; the time passes with 
frightful rapidity. My doctor [Dr. Nacquart], alarmed at 
my fatigue, ordered me to remain a month without doing 
anything, — neither reading, writing letters, nor writing of 
any kind ; to be, as he expressed it, like Nebnchadnezzar 
in the form of a beast. This Idid. During this inaction 
vaingiory lias had its way. Madame [the Duchesse de 
Berry] lias caused to be written to me the most touching 
things from the depths of lier prison at Blaye. I hâve 
been lier consolation; and "l'Histoire des Treize" had 
so interested lier that she was on the point of writing to 
me to be told the end in advance, so much did it agitate 
herî And an odd thing ! M. de Fitz- James writes me 
that old Prince Metternich ne ver laid the story clown, and 
that he devours my works. But enough of ail that. You 
will read Madame Jules, and when you reach lier you 
will regret having told me to burn your letters. The 
"Histoire des Treize" [this refers only to one part, 
u Ferragus " ] has had an extraordinary success in this 
careless and busy Paris. 

Forgive my scribbling; my heart and head are always 
too f ast for the rest, and when I correspond with a person 
I love I often become illegible. 

I hâve just read and reread your long and delightful 
letter. How glad I am that you are making the journal I 
asked of you. Now that this is agreed upon betvveen us 
I will confide to you ail my thoughts and the events of my 
life, as you will yours to me. Your letter has done me 
great good. My poor artist [Auguste Borget] is one of 
my friends. At this moment lie is roaming the shores of 
the Mediterranean, or you w r ould hâve had by this time a 



2(J Honoré de Balzac. [i^rs 

sketch of my ehamber or m y Utile salon, I cannot y et 
tell you his.name ; but lie will perhaps put it on a land- 
scape lie is to make in the eopy of tlie "* Médecin de cam- 
pagne " which is destined for you, but cannot be ready 
before next autunni. lie is a great artist, still more a 
noble heurt, a young man î'ull of détermination and pure 
as a youn'g girl. Ile was not williug to exlublt this year 
some magniiicent studies. Ile waiits to study two years 
longer before appearing, and I praise the résolution, lia 
will be great at one stroke. 

Régnier, who is making the collection of tlie dwellings 
of celebrated perdons, was hère yebterday ; my house will 
be (for you) in the next number, and, to finish up tlie 
quarter, lie will put in the Observatoire, ou the side where 
M. Arago lives. That is the side I look upou ; it is 
opposite to me. 

I hope u Le Médecin de campagne " will appear withiii 
the next fortnight. This is the work that I prefer. My two 
counsellors cannot hear fragments of it without shedding 
tears. As for me, what care bestowed upon it ! — but 
what annoj^ances ! The pubiisher wanted to s mimions me 
to deliver the manuseiïpt more rapidly ! I hâve only 
worked at it eight months ; yet to ail the world this delay 
— put it in comparison with the work — will seem diaboi- 
ical. You shah hâve an ordinary copy, in which I want 
you to read the composition. T)o not buv it ; Avait, I en- 
treat you, for the handy volume I in tend for you, besides 
the grand copy. You know how much I care that you 
shall read me in a copy that I hâve chosen. It is a gos- 
pel ; it is a book to be read at ail moments. I désire that 
the volume in itself shall not be indiffèrent to you; there 
will be a thought, a caress for you on every page. 

Before I can hear from you where to address my letters, 
much time must elapse. I can thercfore talk to you 
at length. To-morrow I will speak of your last letter, 
which I hâve near me, very near me, so that it perfumes 



1833] Luttera to Madame llanska. 27 

me. Oh ! how a secret sentiment brightens lif e ! how 
proud it renders it ! If you knew what part y ou hâve in 
my thoughts ! how many times during this month of iclle- 
ness, under that beautiful blue sky of Angoulême, I hâve 
delightfully journeyed toward you, occupying my. mind 
with you, uneasy about you, knowing you ill, receiving no 
answers, and givlng myseif up to a thousand fancies. I 
live mueh through you, perhaps too mue h : betrayed al- 
ready by a person who had only curiosity, my hopes in 
you are not devoid of a sort of terror, a fear. Oh ! I am 
more of a child than you suppose. 

Yesterday I went to see Madame Récamier, whom I 
found ill, but wonderfully bright and kind. I had heard 
she did mueh good, and very nobly, in being silent and 
making no complaint of the ungrateful beings she lias 
met. No doubt she saw upon my face a reflection of 
what I thought of lier, and, without explainiug to herself 
this little sympathy, she was charming to me. 

In the evening I went to see (for I hâve been only six 
days in Paris) Madame Emile de Girardin, Delphine 
Gay, whom I found almost well of her small-pox. She 
will hâve no marks. There were bores there, so I came 
away, — one of them that enemy to ail lâughter, the 
bibliophile X . . ., about whom you ask me for news. 
Alas ! I can tell you ail in a word. He has married an 
actress, a low and obscure woman of bad morals, who, the 
week before marrying him, had sent to one of my class- 
mates, 8 . . . , the editor of the u National/' a bill of her 
debts, by w r ay of flinging him the handkerchief. The 
bibliophile had said mueh harm of this actress ; he did 
not then know her. He went behind the scènes of the 
Odéon, fell in love with her, and she, in revenge, married 
him. The vengeance is complète ; she is the most dread- 
ful tyrant I ever knew. She has resumed her actress 
allurements, and rules him. There is no talent possible 
to him under such circumstances. Ile calls himself a 



28 Honoré de Balzac [1833 

bibliophile and does not know what bibliography is ; 
Nodier and the amateurs laugh at him. He needs mueh 
money, and lie stays in literature for want of funds to be 
a banker or a me rehaut of fasliions. Ilenee his books, — 
"Divorce," "Vertu et Tempérament/' and ail that he 
does. lie is the culminating point of medioerity. By 
one of those chances that seem occult, I knew of his he- 
having horril>ly to a poor woman Avhose séduction he h ad 
undertaken as if it were a matter of business. I hâve 
seen that woman weeping bitter tears at having belonged 
to a man whom she did not esteem and who had no talent. 

Sandeau lias just gone to Jtaly; he is in despair; I 
thought him erazy. . . . 

As for Janin, another alas î . . . Janin is a fat little 
nian who bites everybody. The préface to "Barnave" 
is not by him, but by Béquet, on the staff of the "Journal 
des Débats," a witty mini, ill-condueted, vviio was liiding 
witli Janin to eseape liis creditors. Baquet was a school- 
niate of mine ; he came to me, already an old nian from 
his excesses, to weep over his trouble. Janin had taken 
from him a poor singer who was ail Bé(|uet's joy. The 
kt Chanson de Barnave"is by de Musset; the infâmous 
chapter abont the daughters of Sejaims is by a young 
man named Félix Pyat. 

For mercy's sake, leave me free to be silent al)out thèse 
tliings when they are too revolting. They run from car 
to ear in the salons, and one must needs hear them. I 
hâve already told y ou about H . . . ; well ! married for 
love, having wife and children, he f cil in love with an 
actress named J . . ., wlio, among other p roofs of tender- 
ness, sent him a bill of seven thousand francs to lier 
laundress, and II . . . was forced to sign notes of hand to 
pay the love-letter. Fancy a great poet, for he is a poet, 
working to pay the washerwoman of IMademoiselle J . . . î 
Latouche is envions, spiteful, and malicious ; he is a fount 
of venom ; but he is faithf ul to his political crecd, honest, 



1833] Letters to Madame Hansïca. 29 

and conceals his private life. Scribe is very ill; lie lias 
worn himself out in writing. 

General rule : there are few artists or great men who 
hâve not had their frailties. It is diffîcult to hâve a power 
and not to abuse it. But then, some are calumniated. 
Hère, except about the washerwoinan's hill, a thing I 
hâve only heard said, ail that I hâve told you are facts 
that I know personally. 

Adieu for to-clay, my dear star; in future I will only 
tell you of things that are good or beautif ul in our coun- 
try, for you seem to me rather ill-disposed towards it. 
Do not see our warts ; see the poor and luckless f riends of 
Sandeau subscribing to give liim the needful money to go 
to Ttaly; see the two Johannots, so united, so hard-work- 
ing, living like the two Corneilles. There are good hearts 
still. 

Adieu; I shall re-read your pages to-night before I 
sleep, and to-morrow I will write you my day. This day 
I hâve corrected the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of 
the " Médecin de campagne " and signed an agreement for 
the publication of the u Scènes de la Vie Parisienne." I 
wish I knew what you were doing at the moments when 
my mind is occupied with you. 

During my absence a horse I was fond of died, and 
three beautiful unknown ladies came to see me. They 
must hâve thought me disdainful. I opened their letters 
on arriving. There was no address ; ail was mysterious 
as a bonne fortune. But I ara exclusive : I write to noue 
but you, and chance lias sent my answer to those inquisi- 
tive women. 

Paeis, July 19 — August 8, 1833. 

You hâve not been either forgotten or less loved ; but 

you yourself hâve been a little forgetful. You hâve not 

written to me how long a time you were to stay in Vienna, 

so that I might know if my reply would reach you there. 



30 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Then you hâve written the name of your correspondent so 
illegibly that I copy it with fear that thcro may be some 
mistake. 

That said, I hnve written you rêverai lctters whieh I 
hâve burned for fear of dispieasing you, and ï will now 
sum up for you in very few words my récent life. 

An odious lawsuit was instituted agninst me ])y a pub- 
lislier, à pro])oti of c \hc Mc'decin de campagne." The work 
was finished to-day, duly 1 ( .>, and will be sold by a pub- 
lislier appointed by the court. As for that book, I hâve 
buried therein sinee I last wrote to you more thau sïxty 
nights. You will read it, you, my distant angel, and you 
will see how much of lieart and life lias bee-n spent in that 
work, with whieh I am not yet very content. 

My work bas so absorbed me that I could not give you 
my thoughts ; I am so weary, and for me life is such a 
désert! The only sentiment apparently true that dawns 
in my reai life is a thousand leagues away from me. 
Does it not need ail the power of a poet's heart to find 
consolation there ; to say to itself amid such toil : "She 
will quiver with joy in seeing that lier name lias occupied 
me, that she herseîf was présent to my thought, and that 
what 1 dwelt on as loveîiest and noblest in that young 
girl I bave named for lier"? You will see in reading the 
book that you were in my soûl as a light. 

I hâve nothing to tell you about niyself, because I 
hâve been working night and day without seeing any 
one. Nevertheless, a few unknown ladies bave rapped 
at my door and bave written to me. I>ut I bave not a 
vulgar soûl, and, as hi dilccfa say s, u If I were young 
and pretty I shouîd corne, and not write this." So I drop 
ail that into the void. There is something of you in this 
féminine reserve. A crown of the nature of that to whieh 
I aspire is given in its entîrety; it cannot be divided. 

Well, still some days, some months of labour, and I 
shall hâve ended one of my tasks. I shall then take 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 31 

a brief repose and refresh my brain by a journey ; friencls 
hâve already proposed to me Germany, Austria, Moravia, 
Russia. Non so. I do not yet know what I shall do. 
You are so despotic in your orders that I am af raid to 
go your way ; there would be a double danger there for 
me. 

Your letters delight me ; they make me love you more 
and more ; but this life, which turns incessantly toward 
you, is consumed in efforts and returns to me no richer. 
To love one another witbout personai knowledge is 
torture. 

August 1, 1833. 

Twelve days' interval without being able to résume my 
letter ! Judge my life by that. It is a perpétuai combat, 
without relaxing. The wretches ! they don't know what 
they destroy of poesy. 

My lawsuit will be decided to-morrow. ''L'Europe 
Littéraire " has quoted the " Story of the Emperor " told 
by a solclier of the Impérial Guard to peasants in a barn 
(one of the chief things in the "Médecin de campagne"). 
Bah! And hère are speculators who for the last week 
hâve stolen me, printed me without my permission, and 
hâve sold over twenty thousand copies of that fragment! 
I could use the law with rigour, but that 's unworthy of 
me. They neither give my name, nor that of the work; 
they murder me and say nothing ; they rob me of my 
famé and my pittance, — me, a poor man ! You will some 
day read that gigantic fragment, wjiich has made the 
most unfeeling weep, and which a hundred newspapers 
hâve reproduced. Friends tell me that from end to end 
of France there has risen a cry of admiration. What 
will it be for the whole work ! 

I send h ère with a scrap of a former letter which I had 
not entirely burned. 

Since the 19th of last month I hâve had nothing but 
troublés, anxieties, and toil. To finish this little letter, I 



82 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

hâve to take part of a night, and I think it a gentle 
récréation. 

I leave în a week for the country so as to finish in 
peace the third dizain of the " Contes Drolatiques " and 
a great historical novel called u Privilège." Ahvays 
work! You can, I think, without blushing, allow your- 
self to read the third dizain. It is almost pure. 

I await, assuredly with anxiety, your letter relatin g to 
"Le Médecin de campagne." Write me quickly what you 
think of it; tell me your émotions. 

Mon Dieu ! I would f ain recount to you a thousand 
thoughts; but there is a pitiless somebody who hurries 
and commands me. l>e gênerons, write to me, do not 
scold me too much for a seeming silence; my heart speaks 
to you. If a spark liâmes up in your candie at night, 
consider the little gleam as a message of the thoughts of 
your friend. Jf your lire crackles, think of me who think 
often of you. Y es, dream true in saying to yourself that 
3 T our words not only écho, but they remain in my memory ; 
that in the most obscure corner of Paris there is a being 
who puts you into ail his dream s, who counts you for 
much in his sentiments, whom you animate at times, but 
who, at othcr times is sad and ealls to you, as we hope 
for a chance that is well-nigh impossible. 

Patïts, August 8, 1833. 

I hâve rcceived your letter from Switzerland, from 
Neufchâtel. 

Will you not be much dissatisfied with yourself when 
you know that you hâve given me great pain at a moment 
when I already had much? After ail that I hâve said to 
you, was not my silence significant of misfortunes? I 
now inclose to you the letters begun before I received 
tins letter from Switzerland in which you give me your 
exact address. 

I will not explain to you the troubles that overwhelm 



1833] Letters to Madame Hansha. 33 

me ; they are such that I thought yesterday of quitting 
France. Besicles, the lawsuit which troubles me so much 
is very difficult to explain even to the judges ; you will 
feel therefore that I cannot tell you anything about it in 
a letter. Mon Dieu! if you hâve never thought that I 
might hâve untold troubles, your heart should hâve told 
you that I did not enter your soûl to leave it as you sup- 
pose me to hâve done, and that I did not forget you. 
You do not know with what strength a man who has met 
with nothing but toil without reward, sorrows without 
joy, fastens to a heart in which for the first time he finds 
the consolations that he needs. The fragments of letters 
which I now send you hâve been under my hand for the last 
three months, but for three months past I hâve not had a 
day, an hour, to write to the persons I love best. But you 
are far away ; you know nothing of my life of toil and an- 
guish. At any rate, I pardon you the badnesses which reveal 
such force in your heart for him whom you love a little. 

Later, I will write you in détail ; but to-day I can only 
send you thèse beginnings of letters, assuring you of my 
constant faith. I intend to plead my case myself, and I 
must study it. 

Nothing can better picture to you the agitated life 
which I lea'd than thèse fragments of letters. I hâve not 
the power or the faculty to give myself up for an hour 
to any connected subject outside of my writings and my 
business matters. When will this end? I do not know. 
But I am very weary of this perpétuai struggle between 
men and things and me. 

I must bid you adieu. Write to me always, and hâve 
faith in me. During the hours of release that corne to me I 
shall turn to you and tell you ail there is of good and ten- 
der sentiments in me for you. Adieu ; some day you will 
know how unhappy I was in writing you thèse few lines, 
and you will be surprised that I was able to write them. 

Adieu ; love him who loves you. 
3 



34 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Paris, August 19, 1833. 

What would I not pardon after reading your letter, my 
cherished angel? But you are too beloved ever to be 
guilty of a fault; you are a spoilt child ; to you belong 
m y most preeious hours. See, I answer you alone. Mon 
Dieu! do not be jealous of any one. I hâve not been to 
see Madame Récamier or any one else. I do not love 
Madame de Girardin; and every time I go there, which 
is rare, I bring away with me an antipathy. 1 ... It is 
ten moiîths since I hâve seen Eugène Sue, and really 
I bave no maie frieuds in the true acceptation of the 
word. 

Do not read the " Écho de la Jeune France." The 
second part of u Histoire des Treize " ought to be in it, 
but those men hâve acted so badly towards me that I 
hâve ceased to do what, out of extrême good-will to a 
collège friend iuterested in the enterprise, I began by 
doing. You will find a grand and beautiful story just 
begun; the first chapter good, the second bad. They had 
the impertinence to print my notes, without waiting for 
the work I always undertake as it goes through the press, 
and I shall now not complète the history till I put it in 
the " Scènes de la Vie Parisienne " which will appear tins 
winter. 

I hâve only a moment in which to answer you ; I live 
by chance, and by fits and starts. Perdonatemi. 

Since I last wrote to you in such a hurry I hâve had 
more troubles than I ever had before in my life. 

My lawyers, my solicitors, everybody, implore me not 
to spend eight montlis of my life in the law-courts, and 
yesterday I signed a compromise allowing ail questions 
in litigation to be sovereignly decided by two arbitrators. 
That is how I now stand. The affair will be decided by 

1 This is not true. Tlie antipathy, if any, was to Emile de Girardin, 
and it put an end for a time to Balzac's visits to the house. See Ed. 
l)éf., vol. xxiv., p. 198. — Tr. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 35 

the end of the week, and I shall then know the extent of 
my losses and my obligations. 

Of the three copies Ihave had made of "Le Médecin de 
campagne " nothing exists that I can send you, uniess it be 
the first volume. But hère is what I shall do : I shall 
hâve duplicate proofs made of the second volume, and you 
shall read them ten days hence, before the rest of the 
world. I hâve already found many blemishes, theref ore it 
is a copy of the second édition only that I wish to give 
you ; which will prove to you my tenderness, for I don't 
know for whom else I would take the trouble to write my- 
self the title for printing [le titre en regard de V impression']. 

The extrême disorder which this lawsuit and the time 
taken in making this book bas brought into my affairs, 
obliges me to take service once more in the newspapers. 
For the last week I hâve been very actively working on 
" L'Europe littéraire " in which I ow r n a share. Thursday 
next the " Théorie de la Démarche" will be finished. It 
is a long and very tiresome treatise. But by the end of 
the month there will be a " Scène de la Vie de province," 
in the style of "Les Célibataires," called " Eugénie 
Grandet," which will be better. Take " L'Europe litté- 
raire " for three months. 

You hâve not told me whether you hâve read u Juana " 
in the " Revue de Paris," nor whether you hâve found 
the end of " Ferragus." I would like to know if I ought 
to send you those two things. As for the dizains of the 
u Contes Drolatiques," do not read them. The third you 
might rjead. The first two belong, like those which fol- 
low the third, to a spécial literature. I know women of 
exquisile taste and lofty dévotion who do read them ; but 
in truth I never reckoned on suehrare suffrages. It is a 
work that cannot be juclged until completed, and ten 
years hence. It is a literary monument built for a few 
connoisseurs. If you do not like La Fontaine's Taies, 
nor those of Boccaccio, and if you are not an adorer of 



86 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Ariosto, let the "Contes Drolatiques'* alone; although 
they will be my finest meed of famé in the future. 1 tell 
you this once for ail, not to return to it. 

I send to you, to the addrcss of Henriette Borel, 1 by 
to-morrow's carrier, a unique "Louis Lambert" on 
Chinese paper, which I bave had printed for you, be- 
lieving m y work perfect. But I bave the grief to tell 
you that there is now a new manuscript for the future 
édition of the " Ltudes Philosophiques." You will also 
find in the package the first volume of "Le Médecin de 
campagne," and I will send you the second as soon as 
there is a copy. I hope to make you wait not more 
than eight or ten days for it. Evclhia is in the second 
volume. If you receive thèse volumes safely I will send 
you the Chénier I bave hère for you. 

Now that what I regard as business is ended, let us 
speak of ourselves — Oursclves! AVho told you about 
the little Metternieh? As to the services I bave rendered 
Eugène Sue, I do not understand. But, I entreat, do not 
listen to either calumny or gossip ; I am the butt of evil 
tongues. Yesterday one of my friends heard a fool relat- 
ting that I had two talismans in my bouse, in which L 
believed; two drinking-glasses ; on one of which depended 
my life, on the other my talent. You cannot imagine what 
nonsense is t jld about me, calumnies, crazy incriminations ! 
There is bat one thing true — my solitary life, increasing 
toil, and sorrows. 

No, you do not know how cruel and bitter it is to a 
loving man to ever désire happiness and never meet it. 
Woman bas been my dream; yet I bave stretched my 
arms to none but illusions. I bave conceived of the 

1 Mlle. Henriette l'orel was governess in the Ilanski family. She 
was a native of Xeufchâtel, and M. Ilanski employed lier to seleet and 
engage a fnrnished house theve for hiinself and faniilv, to which they 
went in Maj^, 1833. She was the " Lirette " wlio took the veil ni Paris 
(Deeember, 1845) ; of which ceremony Balzac gives a vivid account in 
one of the following letters. — Tk. 



1833] JLetters to Madame JTanska. 37 

greatest sacrifices. I hâve even dreamed of one sole day 
of perfect happiness in a year; of a woman who would 
bave been as a fairy to me. With that I could hâve been 
content and faithful. And hère I am, advancing in life, 
thirty-four years old, withering myself with toil that is 
more and more exacting, having lost already my finest 
years and gained notliing real. 

You, you, my dear star, y ou fear — y ou, young and 
beautif ul — to see me ; you overwhelm me with unjust sus- 
picions. Those who suffer never botray ; they are the 
betrayed. 

Benjamin Constant lias made, as I think, the arraign- 
ment of men of the world and intriguers ; but thcre are 
noble exceptions. When you hâve read the Confession in 
the u Médecin de campagne" you will change your opinion, 
and you will understand that lie who, for the flrst time, 
revealed his heart in that book ought not to be classed 
among the cold men who calculate everything. O my 
unknown love, do not distrust me, do not think evil of 
me. I am a chilcl, that is the whole of it — a chilcl, with 
more levity than you suppose, but pure as a child and 
loving as a child. Stay in Switzerland or near France. 
In two months I must hâve rest. Well, you shall hear, 
perhaps without terror, a u Conte Drolatique" from the 
lips of the author. Oh ! yes, let me lind near you the 
rest I need after this twelvemonth of labour. I can take 
a naine that is not known, beneath which I will hide 
myself. It will be a secret between you and me. Every- 
body would suspect M. de Balzac, but who knows M. 
d'Entragues? Nobody. 1 

1 Tf Balzac ever wrote this paragraph (which T believe to be an in- 
terpolation made to fît the theory in "Roman d'Amour") he fell ludi- 
crously short of his design ; for he wrote letters to friends ahout this 
journey, two from Neufchâtel tlurin^ the five days he stayed there 
(pp. 181-183, vol. xxiv., Éd. Dcf.) ; ho stoppod half way to see manufac- 
turera and transact business with thera in his own name ; he took with 



88 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Mon Dieu! what you wish, I wish. We hâve the sarae 
désires, the same anxieties, the same appréhensions, the 
sarae pride. I, too, cannot conceive of love otherwise 
than as eternal, applying that word to the duration of life. 
I do not comprehend that persoos [_o)f\ shouid quit eaeh 
other, and, to me, one woman is ail women. 1 would 
break my pen to-morrow if you desired it ; to-morrow no 
other woman shouid hear my voice. I shouid ask excep- 
tion for my dilecta, who is a mother to me. She is nearly 
fiffry-eight years old, and you could not be jealous of lier 
— you, so young. Oh! take, aceept my sentiments and 
keep them as a treasure ! Dispose of my dreams, realize 
them? I do not think that God would be severe to 
one who présents herself before him followed by an ador- 
able cortège of beautiful hours, happiness, and delightful 
life given by lier to a faithful being. I tell you ail my 
thoughts. As for me, I dread to see you, because I shall 
not realize your preconceived ideas ; and yet I wish to see 
you» Truly, dear, unknown soûl who animate my life, 
who bid my sorrows flee, who revive my courage dur- 
ing grievous hours, this hope caresses me and gives me 
heart. You are the ail in ail of my prodigious labour. 
If I wish to be something, if I work, if I turn pale through 
laborious nights, it is, I swear to you, because I live in 
your émotions, I try to guess them in advance ; and for 
this T am desperate to know if you hâve linished " Fer- 
ragus ; " for the letter of Madame Jules is a page full of 
tears, and in writing it I thought much of you ; ofïering 
to you there the image of the love that is in my heart, the 
love that I désire, and which, in me, has been constantly 
unrecognized. Why? I love too well, no doubt. I hâve 
a horror of littlenesses, and I beiieve in wdiat is noble, 

him to Nenfehâtel his artist-friend, Auguste Borget ; and lie made the 
acquaintance, not of Madame Hanska only, but of Monsieur TTanski, 
who remained his fiiend through life and. his occasional correspond- 
ent. — Tr. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 39 

without distrust. I hâve written in your ' ' Louis Lambert " 
a saying of Saint Paul, in Latin : Una Jides ; one only 
faith, a single love. 

Mon Dieu! I love you well; know that. Tell me 
where you will be in October. In October I shall hâve a 
fortnight to myself. Choose a beautiful place; let it be 
ail of heaven to me. 

Adieu, you wlio despotically fill my heart ; adieu. I 
will write to you once every week at least. You, whose 
letters do me so much good, be charitable ; cast, in pro- 
fusion, the balm of your worcls into a heart that is athirst 
for. them. Be sure, dear, that my thought goes out to 
you claily; that my courage cornes from you; that one 
hard word is a wound, a mourning. Be good and great ; 
you will never find (and hère I would fain be on my 
knees before you that you might see my soûl in a look) 
a heart more delicately faithful, nor more vast, more 
exclusive. 

Adieu, then, since it must be. I hâve written to you 
while my solicitor lias been reading to me his conclusions, 
for the case is to be judged the day after to-morrow, and 
I must spend the night in writing a summai^ of my 
affair. 

Adieu ; in five or six days you will hâve a volume that 
has cost much labour and many nights. Be indulgent to 
the faults that remain in spite of my care ; and, my 
adored angel, forget not to cast a few flowers of your 
soûl to him who guards them as his noblest wealth ; write 
to me often. As soon as the judgment is rendered I will 
write to you ; it will be on Thursday. 

AVell, adieu. Take ail the tender regards that I place 
hère. I would fain envelop you in my soûl. 

Paris, end of Angust, 1833. 
My dear, pure love, in a few da}^s I shall be at Neuf- 
châtel. I had already decided to go there in September ; 



40 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

but hère cornes a most delightful pretext. I rnust go on 
the 20th or 25th of August to Besançon, perhaps earlier, 
and tlien, y ou understand, I can be in the twinkling of an 
eye at Neufchâtel. 1 will inform you of my departure by 
a simple little Une. 

I hâve given to speculators a great secret of fortune, 
winch will resuit in books, blackened paper, — salable litera- 
ture, in short. 1 The only man who can manufacture our 
paper lives in the environs of Besançon. I shall go there 
with my printer. 

Ah ! yes, 1 hâve had moncy troubles ; but if you knew 
with what rapidity eight days' labour can appease tliem ! 
In ten days 1 can earn a hundred louis at least. But tins 
last trouble lias made me thhik seriously of no longer 
being a bird on a brandi, thoughtless of seed, fearing 
nought but rain, and singing in fine weather. 8o now, at 
one stroke, I shall l)e rich — for one needs gold to satisfy 
one's fancies. You see I hâve received your letter in 
which you complain of life, of your life, which I would 
fain render happy. 

Oh! my beloved angel, now you are reading, I hope, 
the second volume of tc Le Médecin de campagne; " you 
will see one name written with joy on every page. I liked 
so much to occupy myself with you, to speak to you. Do 
not be sad, my good angel ; I strive to envelop you in 
my thought. I would like to make you a rampart against 
ail pain. Live in me, dear, noble heart, to make me 
better, and I, I will live in you to be happy. Yes, I 
will go to G eue va after seeing you at Neufchâtel ; I will 
go and work there for a fortiiight. Oh ! my dear and 
beloved Evelina, a thousand thanks for this gift of 
love. You do not know with what fidelity I love you, 
unknown — not unknown of the soûl — and with what 
happiness I dream of you. Oh ! each year, to hâve so 
sweet a pilgrimage to make ! Were it only for one look 

1 This was one of liis amusing visions of makiu^ a fortune. — Tu. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 41 

1 would go to seek it with boundless happiness ! Why 
be displeased about a woman tifty-eight years old, who is 
a motlier to me, who folds me in lier heart and proteets 
me f rom stings ? Do not be jealous of her ; she would 
be so giad of our happiness. She is an angel, sublime. 
There are angels of earth and angels of lieaven ; she is of 
heaven. 

I hâve the csntempt for money that you prof ess ; but 
money is a necessity ; and that is why 1 am putting such 
ardour into the vast and extraordinary enterprise which 
will burst forth in January. You will like the resuit. 
To it I shall owe the pleasure of being able to travel 
rapidly and to go oftener toward you. 

Una fides; yes, my beloved angel, one sole love and 
ail for you. It is very late for a young mari whose hairs 
are whitenfng ; but his heart is ardent; he is as you wish 
him to be, naïve, childlike, confiding. I go to you with- 
out fear; yes, I wûll drive away the shyness which has 
kept me so young, and stretch to you a hand old in friend- 
ship, a brow, a soûl that is full of you. 

Let us be joyous, my adored treasure; ail my life is in 
you. For you I would suffer everything! 

You hâve made me so happy that I think no longer of 
my lawsuit. The loss is reckoned up. I hâve done like 
le distrait of La Bruyère — established myself well in my 
ditch. For three thousand eight hundred francs flung to 
that man, I shall hâve liberty on a mountain. 

I will bring you your Chénier, and will read it to 
you in the nook of a rock before your lake. Oh, 
happiness ! 

What a likeness between us ! both of us mismanaged 
by our mothers. How that misfortune 'developed sensi- 
tiveness. Why do you speak of a " cherished lamb" ? 
Are you not my dear Star, au angel towards whom I 
strive to mount? 

I hâve still three pages on which to talk with you, but 



42 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

hère cornes business, lawyers, conférences. À bientôt, 
A thousancl tendernesses of the soûl. 

You speak to me of a f ailhless woman ; but there is 
no infidelity where there was no love. 

Paris, September 9, 1833. 

Win ter is already hère, my dear soûl, and already I 
hâve resumed my winter station in the corner of that little 
galleiy you know of . I hâve left the cool, green salon 
from which I saw the dôme of the Invalides over twenty 
acres of leafage. It was in tbis corner that I received 
and read your first letter, so that now 1 love it better tlian 
before. Eeturning to it, I think of you more specially, 
you, my cherished thought ; and I cannot resist speaking 
a little word to you, conversing one fraction of an hour 
with you. How couid it be that I should no't love you, 
you, the first woman who came across the spaces to warm 
a heart that despaired of love. I had done ail to draw 
to me an angel from on high ; famé was only a pharos 
to me, nothing more. Then you divined ail, — the soûl, 
the heart, the man. And yesterday, re-reading your 
letter, I saw that } t ou alone had the instinct to feel ail 
that is my life. You ask me how 1 can find time to write 
to you. Well, my dear Eve (let me abridge your name, 
it will tell you better that you are ail the sex to me, the 
only woman in the world, like the first woman to the 
first man), — well, you alone hâve asked yourself if a poor 
artist to whom time lacks, does not make sacrifices that 
are immense in thinking of and writing to lier lie loves. 
îlere, no one thinks of thaï ; they take my hours without 
scruple. But now I would fain consecrate my whole 
life to you, think only of you, and write for you only. 

With what joy, if I were free of cares, would I fling 
ail palms, ail famé, a*. ici my iinest works like grains of 
incense on the altar of love. To love, Eve, — that is my 
life! 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 43 

I should long ago hâve wished to ask you for your 
portrait if there were not some insuit, I know not what, 
in the request. I do not want it until after I hâve seen 
you. To-day, my flower of heaven, I send you a lock of 
my hair ; it is stiil black, but I hasten it to defy time. 
I ara letting my hair grovv, and people ask why. Why? 
Because I want enougli to make you chains and bracelets ! 

Forgive me, my dearest, but I love you as a child 
loves, with ail the joys, ail the superstitions, ail the 
illusions of its first love. Cherished angel, how often I 
hâve said to myself : " Oh ! if I were loved by a woman 
of twenty-seven, how happy I should be ; I could love lier 
ail my life without fearing the séparations that âge 
decrees." And you, my idol, you are forever the realiza- 
fcion of that ambition of love. . 

Dear, I hope to start on the 18th for Besancon. It 
dépends on imperative business. I would hâve broken 
that off if it did not concern my mother and many very 
serious interests. I should be thought a lunatic, and I 
hâve already trouble enough to pass for a man of sensé. 

If you will take " L'Europe littéraire " from the 15th of 
August you will fincl the whole of the " Théorie de la 
Démarche " and a " Conte Drolatique " called u Persévé- 
rance d'amour," which you can read without fear. It will 
give you an idea of the first two dizains. 

You hâve now read " Le Médecin de campagne." Alas! 
my critical friends and I hâve already found more than 
two hundred faults in the first volume ! I thirst for the 
second édition, that I may bring the book to its perfec- 
tion. Hâve you laid clown the book at the moment when 
Benassis utters the adored name? 

I am working now at ct Eugénie Grandet," a composi- 
tion which will appear in " L'Europe littéraire " when I 
am travelling. 

I must'bid you adieu. Do not be sad, my love; it is 
not allowable that you should be when you can live at ail 



44 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

moments in a heart where you are sure of being as you 
are in your own, and where you will fine! more thouglits 
full of you than there are in y ours. 

I hâve had a box made to hold and perfume letter- 
paper; and I hâve taken the liberty to hâve one like it 
made for you. It is so sweet to say, t4 8he will touch 
and open this little easket, now hère." And then, I think 
it so pretty ; besides, it is made of bois de France ; and 
it ean hold your Chénier, the poet of love, — the greatest 
of Trench poets, whose every line I would like to read to 
you on my knees. 

Adieu, treasure of joy, adieu. Why do you le ave 
blank pages in your letters? But leave them, leave 
them. Do nothing foreed. Those blanks I fill myself. 
I say to myself, u lier arm passed hère," and I kiss the 
blank! Adieu, my hopes. À bientôt. The mail-cart 
goes, they say, in thirty-six hours to Besançon. 

Well, adieu, my eherished Eve, my éloquent and all- 
gracious star. Do you know that when T receive a letter 
from you a p resentiment, I don't know what, lias already 
announeed it. So to-day, 9th, I am certain I shall get 
one to-morrow. Your lake — I see it ; and sometimes my 
intuition is so strong tliat I i am sure that when I really 
see you I shall say, " 'T is she ! " — tfc &7*e, my love, is 
tJion !" 

Adieu ; à bientôt. 

Tatîts, September 13, 1833. 

Your last letter, of the Oth, has caused me I cannot tell 
what keen pain ; it lias entered my heart to desolate it. 
It is now three hours that I liave been sittiug hère plunged 
in a world of |»ainful thoughts. AVhat crape you hâve 
fastened on the sweetest, most joy ou s hopes which ever 
caressed my soûl ! What ! that book, which I now hâte, 
has given you weapons against me? Do you not know 
witli wliat impetuosity T spring- to happiness? *I was so 
ha^py ! You put (iod between us! You will not hâve 



1833] Lutter s to Madame Jlauska. 45 

my joys, you (livide your heart : you say, "There, I will 
lîve with liim; hère, I will live no more." You make me 
know ail the agonies of jealousy against ideas, against 
reason! Mon Bleu, I would not say to you wicked 
sophisms; 1 hâte corruption as much as violation; I 
would not owe a woman to séduction, nor even to the 
power of good. The sentiment which crowns me with 
joy, which clelights me, is the free and pure sentiment 
which yields neither to the grâce of evil nor to the attrac- 
tion of good ; an involuntary sentiment, roused by intui- 
tive perception and justified by happiness. You gave me 
ail that ; I lived in a clear heaven, and now you hâve flung 
me into the sorrows of doubt. To love, my angel, is to 
hâve nothing in the heart but the person loved. If love 
is not that, it is nothing. As for me, I hâve no longer 
a thought that is not for you; my life is you. Griefs? 
— I hâve had noue to speak of for several days. There 
are no longer griefs or pains to me but those you give 
me; the rest are mère annoyances. I said to myself, "I 
am so happy that I ought to pay for my happiness." Oh ! 
my beloved, she who présents herself in heaven accom- 
panied by a soûl made happy by lier can always enter 
there! I hâve known noble hearts, soûls very pure, very 
délicate ; but thèse women never hesitated to say that to 
love is the virtue of women. It is I who ought to be the 
good and the evil for you. Confess yourself ? Good God ! 
to wliom, and for what? My angel, live in your sphère; 
consider the obligations of the world as a duty imposed 
upon your inward joys ; live in two beings ; in the un- 
known you, the most deiightful, and the known you — two 
divisions of your time ; the happy clreams of night, the 
harsh toils of day. 

If what I say to you hère is evil, my God ! it is without 
my knowledge. Do not put me among the Frenchmen 
wdiom people believe they hâve the right to accuse of 
levity, fatuity, and evil creeds about women. There is 



46 Honore de Balzac. [1833 

notliing of that in me. To betray love for a man or an 
idea is one and tbe same tbing. Ob ! I bave sufÊerêd 
from tins betray al ! A glacial eold bas seized me at tbe 
mère appréhension of new sorrows. I shall resist no 
more ; I ara not strong enougb. I must be doue witb this 
life of tender sentiments, exalted feelings, bappiness 
dreamed of, constant, faitbful love wbicb y ou hâve 
roused for the first and tbe last time in ail its plénitude. 
I bave often riseii to gatber in the barvest, and bave 
found nothing in tbe fields, or else I hâve brougbt back 
unfructifying flowers. I am more sad than I hâve told you 
that I am, and from the nature of my ebaracter, my feel- 
ings go on increasing. I shall be the most unhappy man 
in the world until your answer cornes ; I can still receive 
it hère before my departure for Besançon and consé- 
quent! y for Neuf clrî tel. I leave Saturday, 21st; I shall 
be at Besancon 23rd, and on the 25th at Neufchâtel. My 
journey is delayed by the box I am taking to you. There 
are many things to do to it. I bave sought for the 
cleverest workman in Paris foi* thè secret drawer, and 
what I wish to put into it requires time. Witb what joy 
I go about Paris, bestir myself, keep myself moving for 
a thing that will be yours ! It is a life apart, it is inef- 
fable î The Chéiiier is impossible; we must wait for tbe 
new édition. 

You ask me what I am doing. Mon Dieu! business; 
my writings are laid aside. Besides, bow could I work 
knowing that Saturday evening I shall be going towards 
you? One must know bow the slightest expectation 
makes me palpitate, to understand ail the physical 
evii that I endure from hope. God h as surely given 
me iron membranes if I do not bave an aneurism of tbe 
beart. 

Hère ail tbe newspapers attack " Le MJdecin de cam- 
pagne." Every one rushes to give bis own stab. What 
saddened and angered Lord Byron makes me laugb. I 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 47 

wish to govern the intellectual life of Europe; only two 
years more of patience and labour, and I will walk 
upon the heads of tliose who strive to tie my hands, 
retard my fiightî Persécution, injustice gïve me an 
iron courage. I am without strength against kind feel- 
ings. ' Yoa alone can wound me. Eve, I am at your 
feet; I deliver to you my life and my heart. Kill me 
at a blow, but do not make me suffer. I love you with 
ail the forces of my soûl ; do not destroy such glorious 
hopes. 

Thank you a thousand times for the view ; how good 
and mercif ul you are ! The site resembles that of the 
left bank of the Loire. The Grenadière is a short dis- 
tance avvay from that steeple. There is a complète re- 
semblance. Your drawing is before my eyes until there 
is no need of a drawing. 

À bientôt. 

In future my letters will be always poste restante ; there 
is more security for you in that way. 

Paris, Scptember 18, 1833. 

Dear, beloved Angel, — I hâve a conviction that in 
coming to Neufchâtel I shall do more than ail those heroes 
of love of whom you speak to me ; and I hâve the advan- 
tage over them of not talkmg about it. But that folly 
pleases me. 

I cannot leave till the 22nd; but the mail-cart, the 
quickest vehicle, more rapid than a post-chaise, will take 
me in forty hours to Besançon. The 25th, in the morning, 
I shall be at Neufchâtel, and I shall remain there until 
your departure. 

Unhappily, I do not know if your house is Andréa or 
Andrée. Write me a line, poste restante, at Besançon on 
this subject. 

A thousand heart-feelings, a thousand flowers of love. 
Dear, loved one, in two years 1 shall be able to travel a 



48 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

tbousand leagues, and pass through the dangers of Ara- 
.bian Taies to seek a look ; but that will be notliing ex- 
traordinary in eomparison with the impossibilities of ail 
kinds that my présent journey présents. It is not the 
offering to Uod of a whole life ; no, it is the cup of 
water which counts in love and in religion for more 
than battles. But what pleasures in this madness ! 
How I am rewarded by knowing proudly how much I 
love you ! 

I start Sunday, 22 nd, at six in the evening. I should 
like to stay three days at A T eufehàtel. Do not leave till 
the 29th. 

Adieu, cherished flower. AVhat thoughts, solely filled 
with you, throughout the hours of this journey ! I will be 
yours only. 1 hâve never so truly lived, so hoped ! 

À bientôt. 

Neitfciiâtel, Thursday, Soptcmber 26, 1833. 

Mon Dieu ! I hâve ruade too rapid a journey, and I 
started fatigued. But ail that is notliing now. A good 
night lias repaired ail. I was four nights without going 
to bed. 

I shall go to the Promenade of the faubourg from one 
o'clock till four. I shall remain during that time looking 
at the lake, which I hâve never seen. Write me a little 
line to say if I can write to you in ail security hère, poste 
restante, for I am afraid of eausing you the slightest dis- 
pleasure ; and give me, T beg of ^ T ou, your exact name 
\^et donnez-moi, par grâce, exactement votre nom~\. 

A thousand tendern esses. Tliere lias not been, from 
Paris hère, a moment of time which ha s not been full of 
you, and I hâve looked at the Val de Travers with you in 
my mind. It is delightful, that valley. 

À bientôt. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 49 

Paris, October 6, 1833. 1 

My dearest love, hère I am, very much fatigued, in 
Paris. It is the 6th of October, but it bas been impos- 
sible to write to you sooner. A wild crowd of people 
were ail the way along the road, and in the towns through 
which we passed the diligence refused frora ten to fifteen 
travellers. The mail-cart was engaged for six days, so 
that my friencl in Besançon could not get me a place. I 
therefore did the journey on the impérial of a diligence, in 
company with six Swiss of the canton de Vaud, who 
treated me corporeally like cattle they were taking to 
market, which singularly aided the packages in bruising 
me. 

I put myself into a bath on arriving and found your 
dear letter. O my soûl ! do you know the pleasure it 
gave me? will you ever know it? No, for I should hâve 
to tell you how much I love you, and one does not paint 
that which is immense. Do you know, my dearest Eva, 
that I rose at five in the morning on the day of my de- 
parture and stood on the " Cret" for lialf an hour hop- 
ing — what? I do not know. You did not corne ; I saw 
no movement in your house, no carriage at the door. I 
suspected then, what you now tell me, that you stayed a 
day longer, and a thousand pangs of regret glided into 
my soûl. 

My angel, a thousand times thanked, as you will be 
when I can thank you as I would for what you send me. 

Badone! how ill you judge me! If I asked you for 
nothing it was that I am too ambitious. I wanted enough 

1 Hère the tone of the letters changes, as told in the préface to tliis 
translation; and, as if to show its connection with the taie of the 
" Roman d* Amour/' parts of the garbled letter in that book are given 
hère in a foot-note in the French volume. From this time until 
March 11 ail the letters (except twelve little notes written in Geneva) 
use the tutoiement. As it is impossible to put that form into readahle 
English, the extrême familiarity of the tone of thèse letters is not given 
in the translation. — Tk. 

4 



50 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

to make a chain to keep 3 T our portrait always upon me, 
but I would not despoil tbat noble, idolized head. I was 
like Buridan's ass between bis two treasures, equally 
avarieious and greedy. I bave just sent f or my jeweller; 
lie will tell me liow mucli more is needed, and sinee tlie 
sacrifice is begun, you sball complète it, m y angel. 80, if 
you do bave your portrait taken, bave it doue in miniature ; 
tbere is, I tbink, a very good painter in Geneva ; and bave 
it mounted in a very liât medallion. I sball write you 
openly by tbe parcel I am going to send. 

My dear wife of love, let Anna [lier daughter] wear the 
little cross I sball bave made of lier pebbles ; I sball en- 
grave on tbe back, Aûoremus inelerniua. Tbat is a deli- 
cious woman's motto, and 3^011 will never see tbe cross 
without tbinking of liim wbo says to you ceaselessly tbose 
divine words from tbe young girl's little talisman. 

My darling Eva, bere tben is a new life deligbtfully 
begun for me. I bave seen you, I bave spoken to you ; 
our persons bave made alliance like our soûls, and I hâve 
fourni in you ail tbe perfections tbat I love. Every one 
bas bis, and you bave realized ail mine. 

Bad one! did you not see in my eyes ail tbat I desired. 
Be tranquil ! ail tbe desires tbat a woman who loves is 
jealous of inspiring, I bave fclt tbem ; and if I did not 
tell you witb what ardour I wisbed tliat } T ou migbt come 
some morning it was because I was so stupidly lodged. 
But in Geneva, oh! my adored angel, I sball bave more 
wits for our love tban it takes for ten men to be witty. 

I bave found hère everything bad beyond my expecta- 
ti mis. Tbose wbo owed me money and gave me their 
word to pay it bave not doue so. Bat my mother, whom 
I know ta be embarrassed, lias sbown me sublime dévo- 
tion. But, my dear flower of love, I must repair the folly 
of my journe} 7 , a folly I would renew to-morrow if you 
wrote me that you bad tweuty-four hours' liberty. So now 
I must work day and night. Fifteen days of happiness at 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 51 

Geneva to earn ; those are the words that I find engraved 
ineide my forehead, and they give me the proudest 
courage I hâve ever had. I think there will corne more 
blood to my heart, more ideas to my brain, more strength 
to my being from that thought. Therefore I do not 
doubt that I shall do finer things inspired by that désire. 

During the next month, therefore, excessive toil, — ail 
to see y ou. You are in ail my thoughts, in ail the Unes I 
write, in ail the moments of my life, in ail my being, in 
my hair that is growing for you. 

After to-morrow, Monday, you will receive my letters 
only once a week ; I shall post them punctually on 
Sundays ; they will contain the lines I write to you every 
evening ; for every evening before I go to bed, to sleep 
in your heart, I shall say to you my little prayer of love 
and tell you what I hâve been doing during the day. I 
rob you to enrich you. Henceforth there is nothing but 
you and work, work and you ; sleep in peace, my jealous 
one. Besides, you will soon know that I am as exclusive 
as a woman, that I love as a woman, and that I dream 
ail delicacies. 

Yes, my adored flower, I hâve ail the fears of jealousy 
about you ; and behold, I hâve corne to know that guardian 
of the heart, jealousy, of which I was ignorant because I 
was loved in a manner that gave no fears. La dilecta 
livecl in her chamber, and you, everybody can see you. 
I shall only be happy when you are in Paris or at 
Wierzschownia. 

My celestial love, find an impénétrable place for my 
letters. Oh! I entreat you, let no harm corne to you. Let 
Henriette be their faithful guardian, and make her take ail 
the précautions that the genius of woman dictâtes in such 
a case. 

I begin to-morrow, without delay, on "Privilège," for 
I must work. I am frightened about it. I do not wish 
to start for Geneva until I hâve returned Nodier's dinner, 



52 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

and I cannot help making it splendid. Tbus I hâve to 
work as much for the necessary superfluities of luxury as 
for the superfluous neeessity of my existence. 

To-morrow, Monday, I begin a journal of my life, 
which will only stop during the happy days when my 
fortunate star permits me to see you. The gaps will 
show my happiness. May there be many of them ! 
Mon Dieu ! how proud I am to be still of an âge to appre- 
ciate ail the treasures that there are in you, so that I can 
love you as a young man full of beliefs, a man who lias a 
hand upon the future. Oh, my mysterious love ! let it be 
forever like a flower buried beneath the snow, a flower 
unseen. Eva, dear and only woman whoin the world 
contains for me, and w r ho fills the world, forgive me ail 
the little wiles \_rase;<~] I shall employ to Inde the secret 
of our hearts. 

Mon Uituf how beautifui I thought you, Sunday, in 
your pretty violet gown. Oh ! how you touched me in 
ail my fancies ! Why do you ask me so often to tell you 
what I would fain express only in my looks? Ail sucli 
thoughts lose much in words. I would communicate 
them, soûl to soûl, by the flame of a glance only. 

Now, my wife, my adored one, remember that what- 
ever I write you, pressed by time, happy or unhappy, 
there is in my soûl an immense love ; that you fill my 
heart and my life, and that although I may not always 
express this love well, nothing can alter it ; that it will 
ever flower, more beautifui, fresher, more graceful, be- 
cause it is a true love, and a true love must ever increase. 
It is a beautifui flower, of many years, planted in the 
heart, which spreads its branches and its palms, doubling 
each season its clusters and its perfume; and you, my 
dear life, tell me, repeat to me, that nothing shall gall its 
bark or bruise its tender foliage, that it shall grow in our 
two hearts, beloved, free, treasured as a life wdthin our 
lives — a single life ! Oh ! I love } T ou ! and wdiat balm 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. &3 

that love sheds ail about me; I feel no sorrows more. 
You are my strength ; you see it. 

Well, adieu, my clierished Eva, I must bid you adieu — 
no, not adieu, au revoir, and soon, — at Geneva on the oth 
of November. If you are coming to Paris tell me so 
quickly. 

After ail, I bave told you nothing of what I wished to 
say : how true and loving I tliougbt you ; how you an- 
swered to ail the fibres of my heart, and even to my 
caprices. Mon Dieu! often J was so absorbed, in spite 
of the gênerai ehatter I h ad to make, that I forgot to 
answer when you asked me if tbey did not bind books 
well in Saint-Petersburg. 

Well, à bientôt. Work will make the time that sépa- 
râtes us short. What beauteous days were those at 
Neufehàtel ! We will make pilgrimages tliere some day. 
Oh, angel! now that I bave seen you I can re-see you in 
thouglit. 

Well, a thousand kisses full of my soûl. Would I 
coule! enclose them. The sweetest of ail, I dream of it 
still. 

Paris, October 13, 1833. 

My dearest love, it is now nearly three days since I 
hâve written to you, and this would be bad indeed if you 
were not my beloved wife. But work h as been so en- 
thralling, the difficulties are so great ! Poor angel, I prê- 
ter to tell y oth the sweetness of which my soûl is full for 
you tlian to recount to you my tribulations. As for my 
life it is unshakably fixed, as I hâve told you.already, I 
believe. Going to bed at six after my dinner, rising at 
midnight, hère I ara, bending over the table that you 
know of , seated in this arm-chair that you can see, beside 
the fireplace which has warmed me for six years, and so 
working until midday. Then corne rendezvous for busi- 
ness, the détails of existence which must be attended to; 
often at four o'clock, a bath ; five o'clock, dinner. And 



54 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

then I begin over again intrepidly, swimming in work, 
living iu that white dressing-gown with tbe silk sash that 
you must know about. Tbere are some authors who filch 
my time, taking from me an hour or two ; but more often 
obligations and anxieties are fixtures; returns uncertain. 

I am now in the midst of concluding an agreemcnt 
which will écho through our world of envy, jealousy, and 
silliness ; it will jaundice the yellow bile of those who 
hâve the audacity to want to walk in my shadow. A iirm 
of rather respectable publishers buy the édition of the 
" Etudes de Mœurs au XIX e Siècle" for twenty-sevcn 
thousand francs ; twelve volumes 8vo, including the third 
édition of the "Scènes de la Vie privée/' the first of 
the u Scènes de la Vie de province," and the first of the 
44 Scènes de la Vie Parisienne." Besicles which, the 
jirinter, who owes me a thousand écus, pays them in 
the opération. Tins will give me ten thousand écus, 
That 's enough to make ail idlers, barkers, and the gens 
de lettres roar ! Hère I am, barring what I owe to my 
mother, free of debt, and free in seven months to go 
where I please ! If our great affair succeeds I shall be 
rich ; I can do what I wish for my mother, and hâve a 
pillow, a bit of bread, and a while handkerchief for my 
old da}\s. 

Alas ! my beloved, to secure that treaty I hâve h ad to 
assume engagements, trot about, go out in the morning at 
niue o'clock after working ail night. Nevertheless, I 
shall not be without anxiety as to the payments, for one 
always lias to grant crédit to publishers. My vigils, my 
work, ail that there is most sacred in the w^orld may be 
compromised. This publisher is a woman, a widow 
[Madame Charles Bêche % t]. I hâve never seen lier, and 
don't know her. I shall not send off this letter until thfc 
signatures are appended on both sides, so that my mis- 
sive may carry you good news about my interests; but 
there are two other negotiations pending which are not 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 55 

less important, too long to explain to you, so that I shall 
only tell you resnlts. 

The "Aventures d'une idée heureuse" are one-quarter 
done, and I am weil in the mood to finish them ; "Eugénie 
Grandet/' one of my most tinished works, is half done. 
I am very content with it. " Eugénie Grandet" is like 
nothing that I ever did before. To invent "Eugénie 
Grandet" after Madame Jules — without vanity, that 
shows talent. 

Did I tell you that our paper cannot be macle at Angou- 
lême? I received tins answer yesterday from my friend 
in Angouleme. I am going there in a few days. I am 
obîiged to rush to Saintes, the capital of Saintonge, to 
study the faubourg where Bernard de Palissy lived ; he is 
the hero of the u Souffrances d'un Inventeur" ["David 
Séchard "], which I shall write very quickly at Angoulême 9 
on my return from Saintes. Saintes is twelve leagues 
from Angoulsme, farther on among the hills. I will 
bring you your cotiynac [quince marmalade] from Orléans 
myself. I hâve aiready got your peaches from Tours. 
I am waiting till my jeweller allows me to write to you 
openly, but Fossin is a king, a powcr, and wdien one 
wants things properly done one must kiss that devil's spur 
that men call patience. 

I don't say that I received with great pleasure the let- 
ter in which you are no longer grieved, and in which you 
tell me the story of that monster of an Engiishman. 
That 's what husbands are ; a lover would hâve wrung his 
neck. A duel? May the avenging God make him meet 
some inn servant girl wiio will render him diseased and 
cause him a thousand ills! Considering the nature of the 
gentleman, my w r ish will, I hope, be accomplished. 

At least there is love in your letter, my dear love. The 
other was so gloomy. Mon Dieu! how can you give way 
for a moment to doubt, or hâve a fear? À propos, friends 
hâve been hère to tell me that the rumour is ail about that 



56 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

I hâve been to Switzerland in search of a woman who 
positively came from Odessa. But" happily other people 
say that I followed I\radame de Castries, and otliers again 
that I hâve been to Besançon on a commercial enterprise. 
The author of the invention of the rendezvous is, I think, 
(xosselin, the publisher, who- sent me a letter from Russia 
fîve months ago. And finally, others say that I ne ver 
left Paris at ail, but was put in Sainte Pélagie [prison], 
w/lere tliey saw //<<-. ïïiai i& Ps^is. 

My dear, idolized one, adieu! Nevertheless, I ought to 
tell y ou the thoughts on which I gallop for the last three 
days, the good little quarters of an hour which I give my- 
self when I hâve donc a certain number of pages. I re- 
behold the Val de Travers, I recommence my fîve days, 
and they fill the fifteen minutes with ail their joys ; the 
least little incidents come back to me. Sometimes a view 
of that fine forehead, then a word, or, bette r still, a flame 
lighted by Sev. . . . Oh! darling, you are adorably lov- 
ing, but how stupid you are to hâve fears. No, no, my 
cherished Eva, I am not one of those who punish a woman 
for lier love. Oh ! I would I could remain half a day at 
your knees, my head on your knees, telling you my 
thoughts lazily, with delight, saying nothing sometimes, 
but kissing your gown. Mon Dieu ! how sweet would be 
the day when I couîd play at liberty with you, as a child 
with its mother. O my belo-ved Eva, day of my days, 
light of my nights, my hope, my adored, my all-beloved, 
my sole darling, when can I see you? Is it an illusion? 
Hâve I seen you ? Hâve I seen you enough to say that I 
hâve seen you ? 

Mon Dieu ! how I love your rather broad accent, your 
mouth of kindness, of voluptuousness — permit me to say 
it to you, my angel of love ! 

I work night and day to go and see you for a fortnight 
in December. I shall cross the Jura covered with snow, 
but I shall think of the snowy shoulders of my love, my 



I833J Letters to Madame Hanska. 57 

well-belovecl. Ah ! to breathe jour hair, to liold your 
hand, to strain you in my arms ! tbat 's where my courage 
cornes frora. I bave friends bere who are stupefied at the 
fierce tvill I am displaying at this moment. Ab ! they 
don't know my darling \_ma mie'], my soft darling, her, 
whose mère sight robs pain of its stings ! Yes, Parisina 
and her lover must bave died witbout feeling the axe, as 
they thought of one another ! 

A kiss, my angel of earth, a kiss tasted siowly. Adieu. 
The nigbtingale has sung too long; I am ailurecl to write 
to you, and Eugénie Grandet seolds. 

Saturday, 12, midday. 

The protocols are exchangecl, our refiections made, to- 
morrow the signature. But to-morrow ail may be changée!. 
I hâve scarcely done anything to tfc Eugénie Grandet" and 
the "Aventures d'une idée." There are moments when 
the imagination jolts and will not go on. And then, 
" L'Europe littéraire " has not corne. I am too proud to 
set foot there because the} 7 hâve behaved so ill to me. So, 
since my return I am witbout money. I wait. They 
ought to bave corne yesterday to explain matters ; they 
did not. They ought to corne to-day. At this moment 
the priée of "Eugénie Grandet" is a great su m for me. 
So hère I am, rebeginning rny trade of anguisb. Never 
shall I cease to resemble Raphaël in bis garret; I still 
hâve a year before me to enjoy my last poverty, to hâve 
noble, bidden prides. 

1 am a little fatigued ; but the pain in my side bas 
yielded to quiet sitting in my arm-ebair, to that constant 
tranquillity of the bod} 7 whicb makes a monk of me. 

For the time being, my fancies are calmed ; when there 
is famine in the bouse I don't tbink of my desires. My 
silver chafing-disbes are melted up. I don't mind tbat. 
No more dinners in October. But I enjoy so mucb in 
thought the things I bave not, and thèse desires make 



58 Honoré de Balzac. U833 

them so precious when I do possess them» It is now two 
years that, mont h by month, I counted on a balance 
for my dishes, but they vanish. I liave a crowd of littlo 
pleasures in that way. They mtike me love the little nest 
where I live ; it is what makes me love you — a perpétuai 
désire. Tliose who eall me ill-iiatured, satirical, decep- 
tive, don't know the innocence of my life, my life of a 
bird, gathering its nest twig by twig and playing with a 
straw before it uses it. 

O dear confidant of my most secret thoughts, dear, 
precious conscience, will you some day know, you, the 
companion of love, howyou are loved, — you, who, coming 
on faithful wing toward your mate, did not reject him 
after seeing him. llovv I fcared that I might not please 
you! Tell me again that you liked the m an, after liking 
liis mind and heart — since the mind and heart hâve 
pleased you, I could not doubt it. My idol, my Eva, web 
comed, beloved, if you only knew how ail that you said 
and did laid hold upon me, oh ! no, you would hâve no 
doubts, no dishonouring fears. Do not speak to me as 
you did, saylng, u You will not love a woman who cornes 
to you, who, who, who — "you know what I mean. 

Angel. the angels are often forced to corne down from 
hcaven; we cannot go up to them. Besidcs, it is they 
who lift us on their white wings to their sphère, where we 
love and where pleasures are thoughts. 

Adieu, you, my treasure, my liappiness, you, to whom 
ail my desires liy, you, who make me adore solitude be- 
cause it is full of you. 

Adieu, till to-morrow. At inidday my pcople are com- 
ing for the agreement. This letter will wait to carry you 
good or bad news, but it will carry you so mucb love that 
you will be joyous. 

Snnday, 13, nine o'clock. 

My cherished love, my Eva, the business is complétée! ! 
They will ail burst with envy. My "Études de Mœurs 



1833] Letters to Madame HansJca. 59 

au XIX" Siècle " bas been bought for twenty-seven thou- 
sand francs. The publisher will make that ring. Since 
Chateaubriand's twenty-five volumes were bought for two 
hundred thousand francs for ten years there has not been 
such a sale. They take a }^ear to sell. . . . 

Ah ! hère cornes your letter. I read it. 

My divine love, how stupid you are ! Madame de 
S . . . ! — I hâve quarrelled with her, hâve I, so that I 
never say a word to her; I will not even bow to her 
daughter? Alas! I hâve met her, Madame de S . . ., at 
Madame d' Abrantès' this winter. She came up to me and 
said : " She is not hère " (meaning Madame de Castries) ; 
t4 have you been so severe as you were at Aix?" I 
said, pointing to her lover, former lover of Mme. d'A., 
a Portuguese count, u But lie is hère." The duchess burst 
ont laughing. 

Oh! my celestial angel, Madame de S . . . — if you 
could see her you would Know how atrocious the calumny 
is. . . . Your Polish women saw too much of Madame 
de C . . . to pay attention to Madame de S . . . who was 
paying court to her. But I was at Aix w r ith Madame de 
C . . . and we were dining together. As for the mar- 
quise, faith, the portrait you draw of lier makes me die of 
laughing. There is something in it, but changed now. 
Fresh, yes ; without heart, yes, at least I think so. She 
will always be sacred to me ; but in the chatter of your 
Polish women there was just enough truth to make the 
slander pass. 

My idolized love, no more doubts ; never, do you 
understand? I love but you and can love none but you. 
Eva is your symbolic name. Better than that ; I hâve 
never loved in the past as I feel that I love you. To you, 
ail my life of love may belong. 

Adieu, my breath. I w r ould I could communicate to 
thèse pages the virtue of talismans, that you might feol 
my soûl enveloping you. Adieu, my beloved. I kiss this 



GO Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

page ; I add a lcaf of my last rose, a petal of my last 
jasmine. Tou are in my thouglit as tlie very base of 
intellect, the substance of ail things. 

"Eugénie Grandet" is encbanting. You shall soon 
bave it in Geneva, 

Well, adieu, you whora I would fain see, feel, press, 
adieu. Can I not find a way to press you? What impo- 
tent wishes imagination lias! My dear light, I kiss you 
with an ardour, an embrace of life, an effusion of the 
soûl, without example in my life. 

My angel, I don't answer about the cry I gave apropos 
of Madame de C . . . and the son M . . . dying for his 
motlier-in-law. To-morrow for ail that. You must bave 
laughed at my prête nded savagery. 

Do not \>v\.t poste restante au y longer. 

Paris, Sumlay, October 20, 1833. 

What! mylove; fears, torments? You hâve received, I 
hope, the first two letters that I wrote you after my re- 
turn. What shall 1 do not to give you the slightest 
trouble, to make you clear skies? What! could you not 
bave reckoned on a day's delay, an hour of weariness. 
Mon Dieu/ Mon Dieu/ what shall I do? 

I write to you every day ; if you want to receive a letter 
every tbird day instead of every eightb day, say so, speak, 
order. I will do ail not to let a single evil tbougbt corne 
into your heart. 

If you knew the harm your letter bas doue me. You 
do not know me yet. Ail that is bad. But I pardon the 
little grief your letter bas caused me, because it is one 
way of telling me you love me. 

I hâve good news to tell you. I think that the u Etudes 
de Mœurs " will be a settled business hy Tuesday next, 
and that I shall hâve as debtor one of the most solid firms 
of publishers in the market. That is something. 

Forgive me, my Eva of love, if I talk to you of my 



1833] Letters to Madame Hansha. 61 

mercantile affairs; but it is my tranquillity ; it will no 
doubt enable me to go to Geneva. Alas ! I may not go 
till December, because I caunot leave till I hâve finished 
the first part of thèse " Études." 

Adieu; I must return to " Eugénie Grandet," who is 
going on well. I hâve s till ail Mouday and a part of 
Taesday. 

Adieu, my angel of light ; adieu, dear treasure ; do not 
ill-treat me. I hâve a heart as sensitive as that of a woman 
can be, and I love you better or worse, for I rest without 
f ear on your dear heart, and kiss your two eyes — ail ! 

Adieu ; à demain. 

Paris, Wednesday, October 23, 1833. 

To you, my love, to you a thousand tendernesses. 
Yesterday I was running about ail day and was so tired 
that I permitted myself to sleep the night through, so that 
I made my idol only a mental prayer. I went to sleep in 
thy dear thought just as, if married, I should hâve fallen 
asleep in the arms of my beloved. 

Mon Dieu ! I am f rightened to see how my life belongs 
to you ; with what rapidity it turns to your heart. Your 
arteiïes beat as much for me as for yourself. Adored 
darling, what good your letters do me ! I believe in you, 
don't you see, as I believe in my respiration. I am like 
a child in this happiness, like a savant, like a fool who 
takes care of tulips. I weep with rage at not being near 
you. I assemble ail my ideas to develop this love, and 
I am hère, watching ceaselessly thatit shall grow without 
harm. Does not that partake of the child, the savant, and 
the botanist? Thus, my angel, commit no follies. No, 
don't quit your tether, poor little goat. Your lover will 
corne when you cry. But you make me shudder. Don't 
deceive yourself, my dear Eve; they do not return to 
Mademoiselle Henriette Borel a letter so carefully folded 
and sealed without looking at it. There are clever dis- 



62 Honore de Balzac. [1333 

simulations. Now, I entreat you, take a carnage that 
you may never get wet in going to tbe post. Besides, it 
is always cokl in the rue du Rhône. Go every Wednes- 
day, because the letters posted hère on Sunday arrive on 
Wednesday. I will never, whatever may be the urgency, 
post letters for you on any day but Sunday. Burn the 
envelopes. Let Henriette scold the post-oiliee man who 
delivered her letter, which was poste restante ; but seold 
him laughing, for officiais are rancorous. They would be 
capable of saying some Wednesday there were no letters, 
and then delivering them in a way to cause trouble. O 
my angel, misfortunes only corne through letters. I beg 
you, on my knees, fincl a place, .a lair, a mine to hide the 
treasures of our love. Do it, so that you can hâve no 
uneasiness. 

Now, the Countess Potoçka, is she not that beautiful 
Greek, beloved by P . . . , married to a doctor, married 
to General de W . . . , and then to Count L . . . P . . . ? 
If she is, don't confide to her a single thing about your 
love, my poor lamb without mistrust. If she lias proofs, 
then own to her; but such an avowal must not be made 
until you cannot do otherwise, and then, make a merit of a 
forced confession. You must judge of the opportunity ; 
but when I am in Geneva, you understand that people 
who run two ideas and who suppose evil when it does not 
exist, will know well how to divine when true. 

Now, when I read your letters I am in Geneva, I see 
ail. Mon Dieu/ what grâce and prettiness in your letters! 
Eh! my angel of love, I shall be in Geneva precisely when 
you choose. But calculate that it takes your letter four 
days to reach me, and four days for me to arrive ; that 
makes eight days. 

My cherished angel, do not share my troubles more than 
you must in knowing them ; heaven has given me ail the 
courage necessary to support them. I would not hâve a 
single one of my thoughts hidden from you, and I tell you 



1833] .Letters to Madame Hanska. 63 

alL But do not give yourself a fever about them. Yes, 
the sending of the newspapers was an indignity. Tell me 
who was capable of such a joke ïliere will be a duel 
between him aud me. Whoever wounds you is my head 
enemy; but au enemy Arab fashion, with an oath of 
vengeance. 

My dear happiness, there is not a voice hère in my 
f avour ; ail are hostile. I must resign rnyself . They treat 
me, it is true, like a man of genius ; and that gives pride. 
I must redouble cares and courage -to mount this last step. 
I am preparing fine subjects of hatred for them. I work 
with unexampled obstinacy. 

I can only write the ostensible letter to you next week, 
for I wish the package to be full. So much the better 
if I am blamed ; the recollection will be ail the ruore 
precious. 

My darling, you can very well say that you saw 
me at Neufchatel, for that can no more be concealed than 
the nose upon one's face. It will be known ; it should 
therefore be told, soûl of my soûl. 1 

You see I answer ail you write to me, but hap-hazard. 
I am in haste to finish what I call the business of our love, 
to talk to you of love. 

1 This sentence alone would show the falseness of thèse letters. On 
pp. 182, 183, vol. xxiv., Éd. Déf., are two letters of Balzac written from 
Neufchatel; one to Charles de Bernard, ihe other to Mme. Carraud. 
In the latter he says : " I hâve just aecompanied the great Borget to 
the frontier of the sovereign states of this town. ... I conclude hère 
[Paris] this letter, begun at Neufchatel. Just tbink that, at the moment 
when I had ensconced mvself bv my tire to answer you at length and 
reply to your last good letter, they came for me to go and see views 
[sites] ; and that lasted till my departure." A man who goes abont 
sight-seeing with a family party would not hâve written the sentence 
in the text. 

The writer of it himself makes a slip, and forgets that he has said 
in the " Roman d' Amour" letter that on one of thèse excursions (to 
the Lake of Bienne) the husband was sent to order breakfast while they 
gave themselves a flrst kiss. Murder will out in small ways. — Tr. 



64 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

What ! you hâve read the " Contes Drolatiques " with- 
out the permission of your husband of love ? Inquisitive 
one ! O my angel, it needs a heart as pure as yours to 
read and enjoy " Le Péché véniel." That 's a cliamond 
of naïveté. But, dearest, you hâve been very audacious. 
I a m afraid you will love me less. One must know our 
national literature so well, the grand, majestic lite rature 
of the seventeenth century, so sparkling with genius, so 
free in deportment, so lively in words which, in those 
days, were not y et dishonoured, that I am afraid for my- 
self. I repeat to you, if there is something of me that 
will live, it is those Contes. The man who writes a hun- 
dred of them can never die. Re-read the épilogue of the 
second dizain and judge. Above ail, regard thèse books 
as careless arabesques traced with love. What do you 
think of the " Succube" ? My dear beloved, that taie 
cost me six months of torture. I was ill of it. I think 
your criticisms without foundation. The trial of the sup- 
posed poisoners of the Dauphin was held at Moulin's, by 
Chancellor Paget, before the captivity of François I. ; I 
hâve not the time to verify it. Catherine de' Medici was 
Dauphine in 1536, I think. Yes, the battle of Pavia was 
in 1525; you are right. I think you are right as to the 
Connétable ; it was Duc François de Montmorency who 
married the Duchesse de Farnese. But ail that is con- 
tested. I will verify it very carefully, and will correct it 
in the second édition. Thank you, my love ; enlighten me, 
and for ail the faults you find, as many tender thanks. 
Nevertheless, in thèse Contes there must be incorreet- 
nesses ; that 's the usage ; but there must not be lies. 

Enough said, my beloved love, my darling Eva. Hère 
is nearly half a night employed on you, in writing to you. 
Mon Dieu, return it to me in caresses ! I must, angel, 
résume my collar of misery ; but it shall not be until I 
hâve put hère for you ail the flowers of my heart, a 
thousand tendernesses, a thousand caresses, ail the 



1833] Letters to Madame ITanska. 65 

prayers of a poor solitary who lives between his thoughts 
and his love. 

Adieu, my cherished beauty; one kiss upon those 
beautiful red lips, so fresh, so kind, a kiss which goes 
far, which clasps y ou. I will not say adieu. Oh! when 
shall I hâve your dear portrait? If, by chance you hâve 
it mounted, let it be between two plaques of enamel so 
that the whole may not be thicker than a five-franc pièce, 
for I want to hâve it always on my heart. It will be my 
talisman ; I shall feel it there ; I shall draw strength and 
courage from it. From it will dart the rays of that glory 
I wish so great, so broad, so radiant to wrap you in its 
light. 

Corne, I must leave you ; always with regret. But 
once at liberty and without annoyances, what sweet pil- 
grimages ! But my thought goes f aster, and every night 
it glides about your heart, your head, it covers you. 

Adieu, then. À demain. To-morrow I must go to the 
Duchesse dAbrantès; I will tell you why when I get 
back. 

Thursday, 24. 

This morning, my cherished love, I hâve failed in an 
attempt which might hâve been fortunate. I went to 
ofïer to a capitalist, who receives the indemnities agreed 
upon between us for the works promised and not written, 
a certain number of copies of the " Études de Mœurs/' 
I proposed to him five thousand francs à terme for three 
thousand échus. He refused every thing, even my signa- 
ture and a note, saying that my fortune was in my talent 
and I might die. The scène was one of the basest I ever 
knew. Gobseck was nothing to him ; I endured, ail red, 
the contact with an iron soûl. Some day, I will describe 
it. I went to the duchess that she might undertake a 
negotiation of the same kind with the man who had the 
lawsuit with me, her publisher, who eut my throat. Will 
she succeed ? I am in the agonies of expectation, and yet 

5 



66 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

I must bave the serenity, the calmness, that are neces- 
sary for my enormous work. 

My angel, I cannot go to Geneva until the first part 
of the "Etudes de Mœurs" appears published, and the 
second is well under way. That doue, I shall hâve 
fifteen days to myself , twenty perhaps ; ail will dépend 
on the more or less money that I shall hâve, for I hâve 
an important payment to make the end of December. I 
am satisfied with my publisher; lie is active, does not 
play the gentleman, takes up my enterprise as a fortune, 
and considers it eminently profitable. We must hâve a 
success, a great success. "Eugénie Grandet" is a fine 
work. I hâve nearly ail my ideas for the parts that re- 
main to do in thèse twelve volumes. My life is now well 
regulated : rise at midnight after going to bed at six 
o'clock ; a bath every third day, fourteen hours of work, 
two for walking. I bury myself in my ideas and from 
time to time your dear head appears like a beam of sun- 
light. Oh, my dear Eva, I hâve but you in this world ; 
my life is concentrated in your dear heart. Ail the ties 
of human sentiment bind me to it. I think, breathe, 
work by you, for you. What a noble life : love and 
thought î But what a misfortune to be in the embarrass- 
ments of poverty to the last moment! How dearly nature 
sells us happiness ! I must go through another six 
months of toii, privation, struggle, to be completely 
happy. But how many things may happen in six months î 
My beautiful hidden life consoles me for ail. You would 
shudder if I told you ail my agonies, which, like Napoléon 
on a battlefield, I forget. On sitting down at my little 
table, well, I laugh, I am tranquil. That little table, it 
belongs to my darling, my Eve, my wife. I havc had it 
thèse ten years; it has seen ail my miseries, wiped away 
ail my tears, known ail my projects, heard ail my 
thoughts ; my arm has nearly worn it out by dint of 
rubbing it as I write. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hansha. 67 

Mon Dieu ! my jeweller is in the country ; I hâve con- 
fidence in him only. Anna's cross will be delayed. That 
annoys me more than my own troubles at the end of the 
month. Your quince marmalade is on its way to Paris. 

My dear treasure, I hâve no news to give you ; I go 
nowhere, and see no one. You will find nothing but 
yourself in my letters, an inexhaustible love. Be pru- 
dent, my dear diamond. Oh! tell me that you will love 
me always, beeause, don't you see, Eva, I love you for 
ail my life. I am happy in having the consciousness of 
my love, in being in a thing immense, in living in the 
limited eternity that w r e can give to a feeling, but which 
is an eternity to us. Oh ! let me take you in thought in 
my arms, clasp you, hold your head upon my heart and 
kiss your forehead innoce ntly. My cherished one, hère, 
from afar, I can express to you my love. I feel that I 
can love you always, find myself each day in the heart 
of a love stronger than that of the day before, and say 
to you daily words more sweet. You please me daily 
more and more ; daily you lodge better in my heart ; 
ne ver betray a love so great. I hâve but you in the 
world ; you will know in Geneva only ail that there 
is in those words. For the moment I will tell you that 
Madame de C[astries] writes me that we are not to see 
each other again ; she had taken offence at a letter, and 
I at many other things. Be assured that there is no love 
in ail this. Mon Dieu! how everything withdraws itself 
from me? How deep my solitude is becoming ! Persécu- 
tion is beginning for me in literature ! The last obliga- 
tions to pay off keep me at home in continuai gigantic 
toil. Ah! how my soûl springs from this person to join 
your soûl, m y dear country of love. 

I paused hère to think of you ; I abandoned myself to 
revery ; tears came into my eyes, tears of happiness. I 
cannot express to you my thoughts. I send you a kiss 
fuli of love. Divine my soûl ! 



68 Honoré de Balzac, [1833 

Saturday, 26. 

Yesterday, my beloved treasure, I ran about on busi- 
ness, pressing bu^ine^s ; at niglit 1 had to correct the vol- 
umes which go to press Monday. Ko answer from the 
duchess. Oh ! she will not sueeeed. I ani too happy in 
the noble régions of the soûl and thought to be also happy 
in the petty interests of life. I hâve inany letters to write ; 
my work earries me away, and I get behindhand. How 
powerful is the dominion of thougiit! I sleep in peace on 
a rotteu plank. That alone expresses my situation. So 
inucli money to pay, and to do it the peu with which I 
write to you — Oh! no, I hâve two, my love; yours is 
for your letters only ; it lasts, usuaily, six months. 

I hâve eorrected 4t La Femme Abandonnée/' u Le 
Message," and '" Les Célibataires." Tiiat lias taken me 
twenty-six hours since Thursday. One lias to attend to 
the newspapers. To manage the Freueh public is not a 
slight affair. To make it favorable to a work in twelve 
volumes is au enterprisc, a campaign. What contempt 
one pours on men in niaking them move and seeing them 
squabble. Sonic are bought. My publisher tells me 
there is a fariff of consciences among the feuilletonists. 
Shall I reçoive in my house a single one of thèse fellows? 
l 'd ratlier die unknown ! 

To-morrow I résume my manuscript work. I want to 
finish either kC Eugénie Grandet" or u Les Aventures d'une 
idée heureuse." it is Qve o'cloek; I am going to dinner, 
my only meal, then to bed and to sleep. I fall asleep 
always in thoughts of you. seeking a sweet moment of 
Neufchâtel, carrying myself back to it, and so, quitting 
the visible worid, benring away one of your smiles or 
listening to your w r ords, 

Did I tell you that persons from Berlin, Vienna, and 
Hamburg had compiimented me on my successes in Ger- 
many, where, said thèse gracions people, nothing w.ns 
talked of but your Honore? This was at Gérard's. But 



1833] Letters to Madame ITanska. 69 

I must hâve told you tbis. I wish the whole earth would 
speak of me with admiration, so that in laying it on y oui* 
knees you might hâve the whole world for yourself . 

Adieu, for to-day, my angel. To-morrow my caresses, 
îiiy words ail full of love and désires. I will write after 
reeeiving the letter which will, no doubt, corne to-morrow. 
Dear, celestial day ! Would I could invent words and 
caresses for you alone. I put a kiss hère. 

Sunday, 27. 

What! my dear love, no letters? Such grief not to 
know what you think ! Oh ! send me two letters a week; 
let me receive one on Wednesdays and the other on Sun- 
days. I hâve waited for the last courier, and can only 
write a few words. Do not make me suffer; be as 
punctual as possible. My life is in y oui* hands: 

I hâve no auswer to my negotiations. 

Adieu, my dear breath. This last page will bring you 
a thousand caresses, my heart, and some anxieties. My 
cherished one, you speak of a cold, of your health. Oh, 
to be so far away ! Mon Dieu! ail that is anguish in my 
life pales before the thought that you are ill. 

To-morrow, angel. To-morrow I shall get another 
letter. My head swims now. Adieu, my good genius, 
my dear wife ; a thousand flowers of love are hère for 
you. 

Paris, Monday, October 28, 1833. 

I h ave your letter, my love. How much agony in one 
day's delay. À demain ; I wiil tell you then why I can- 
not answer to-day. 

Tuesday, 29. 

My cherished Eva, on Thursday I hâve four or five 
thousand francs to pay, and, speaking literally, I hâve not 
a sou. Thèse are little battles to which I am accustomed. 
Since childhood I hâve never yet possessed two sous that 
I could regard as my own property. I hâve always tri- 



70 Honoré de Balzac, [1833 

umphed until to-clay. So now I musl rush about the 
world of money to make up my sum. I lose my time ; I 
hang about town. One m an is in the country ; another 
hésitâtes ; my securities seem doubtfui to him. I hâve 
ten thousand francs in notes out, however; but by to- 
morrow night, last limit, I shall no doubt hâve found 
some. The two days I am losing are a horrible discount. 

I only tell you thèse things to let you know what my 
life is. It is a fight for money, a battle against the 
envions, perpétuai struggles with my subjects, physical 
struggles, moral struggles, and if I failed to triumph a 
single time I should be exactly dead. 

Beioved angel, be a thousand times blessed for your 
drop of water, for your offer; it is ail for me and yet it 
is nothing. You see what a thousand francs would be 
when ten thousand a month are needed. If I could find 
nine I could find twelve. But I should hâve liked in 
reading that delicious letter of yours to hâve plunged my 
hand in the sea and drawn out ail its pearls to strew them 
on your beautiful black h air. Angel of dévotion and love, 
ail your dear, adored soûl is in that letter. But what are 
ail the pearls of the sea! I hâve shed two tears of joy, 
of gratitude, of voluptuous tenderness, which for you, for 
me, are worth more tlian ail the riches of the whole world; 
is it not so, my Eva, my idol? In reading this feel your- 
self pressed by an arm that is drunk with love and take 
the kiss I send you ideally. You will find a thousand on 
the rose-leaf which will be in this letter. 

Let us drop this sad money; I will tell you, however, 
that the tw r o most important negotiations on which I 
counted for my libération hâve failed. You hâve made 
me too happy ; my luck of soûl and heart is too immense 
for matters of merc interest to sueeeed. I expiate my 
happiness. 

Celestial powers T whom do you expect me to be writing 
to, I who hâve no time for anything? My love, be tran- 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 71 

quil ; my heart can bloom only in the depths of your 
heart. Write to others! to others the perfume of my 
secret thoughts! Can you think it? No, no, to you, 
my life, my dearest moments. My noble and dear wife of 
the heart, be easy. You ask me for new assurances about 
your letters ; ask me for no more. Ail précautions are 
taken that what you writè me shall be like vows of love con- 
fided from heart to heart between two caresses. No trace ! 
the cedar box is closed ; no power can open it ; and the 
person ordered to burn it if I die is a Jacquet, the original 
of Jacquet, who is. named Jacquet, one of my friends, a 
poor clerk whose honesty is iron tempered like a blade 
of Orient. You see, my love, that I do not trust either 
the dilecta or my sister. Do not speak to me of that any 
more. I understand the importance of your wish ; I love 
you the more for it if possible, and as you are ail my 
religion, an idolized God, your desires shall be accorn- 
plished with fanaticism. What are orders? Oh! no, 
don't go to Fribourg. I adore you as religious, but no 
confession, no Jesuits. Stay in Geneva. 

My jeweller does not return ; it vexes me a little. My 
package is delayed : but it is true that the u Caricature" 
is not yet bound and I wish you to receive ail that I 
promised to send. 

Mon Dieu ! your letter lias ref reshed m y soûl ! You 
are very ravishing, my frolic angel, darling flower. Oh ! 
tell me ail. I would like more time to myself to tell you 
my life. But hère I am, caught by twelve volumes to 
pnblish, like a galley-slave in his handcuffs. 

I hâve been to see Madame Delphine de Girardin this 
morning. I had to implore her to fin cl a place for a poor 
m an recommendecl to me by the lady of Angoulême. who 
terrifiée! me by her silent missive. The sorrows of others 
kills me ! Mine, 1 know how to bear. Madame Del- 
phine promised me to do ail she could with Emile de 
Girardin when he returns. 



72 Honoré de Balzac, [is,33 

Apropos, my love, "L'Europe littéraire" is insolvent; 
there is a meeting to-morrow of ail the shareholders to 
devise means. 1 sJiall go at seven o'clock, and as it is 
only a step from Madame Delpliine's I dine vrith lier, and 
I shall finish the evening at Gérard's. 80, 1 am ail upset 
for two days. JMoreover, in the mornings I run about 
for money. Already the hundred louis of Mademoiselle 
Eugénie Grandet hâve gone off in smoke. I must bear it 
ail patiently, as Monsieur Ilanski's sheep let them- 
selves J>e sheared. 

My rich love, what ean I tell you to soothe your heart? 
That my tenderness, the certainty of your affection, the 
beautiful secret life you make me dwarfs everything and 
I laugh at my troubles — there are no longer any troubles 
for me. Oh! I love you, my Eva ! love you as you wish 
to be loved, vrithout limit. J like to say that to myself ; 
imagine therefore the happiness with whieh I repeat it. 

I hâve to say to you that I doift like your refiected 
portrait, made from a copy. No, no. I hâve in my 
heart a dear portrait that delights me. I will wait till 
you hâve had a portrait made that is a better likeness 
after nature. Poor treasure, oh! jour shawl. I am 
proud to think that I alone in the world can comprehend 
the pleasure you had in giving it, and that l hâve that of 
reading what you hâve written to me, — I who do thèse 
things so great and so little, so magnificent and so 
notliing, which make a muséum for the heart out of a 
straw ! 

My beloved, my thoughts devclop ail the tissues of 
love, and I would like to display them to you, and make 
you a rich mantle of them. I would like you to walk 
upon my soûl, and in my heart, so as to feel noue of the 
mud of life. 

Adieu, for to-day, my saintly and beautiful créature, 
you the principle of my life and courage. You who love, 
who are beautiful, who hâve everything and hâve given 



Letters to Madame Hansha. 73 

yourself to a poor youth. Ah ! my heart will be always 
young, fresh, and tender for you. In the immensity of 
days I see no storm possible that can corne to us. I shall 
always corne to you with a soûl full of love, a smile upon 
my lips, and a soft word rcady to caress you in the ear. 
M y Eva, I love you. 

Thursday morning, 31. 

No more anxieties, ail is arranged ! Hère are six 
tliousand francs found, lîvc thousand five hundred paid ! 
Tliere remains to the poor poet five hundred francs in a 
noble bank-bill. Joy is in the house. I ask if Paris is 
for sale. My love, you '11 end by knowing a bachelor's 
life! 

Yesterday, ail was doubtful. In two hours of time ail 
was settled. I started to find my doctor, an old friend 
of my family, seeing that I had nothing to hope from 
bankers. Ah ! in the course of the way I met E . . . 
who took me by the hand and led me to his wife. They 
were getting into a carriage. Caresses, offers of service, 
why did they never see me? why ... ? A thousand 
questions, and Madame R . . . began to make eyes at 
me as she did at Aix, where she tried to seize my portrait 
on the sly. 

Can't you see me, my love, in conférence with a prince 
of money, — me, who could n't find four sous ! Was any- 
tîiing ever more fantastic? A single word to say, and 
my twelve thousand francs of notes of hand went into the 
gulf. I said nothing about it, and certainly lie would 
not hâve taken a sou of discount. I laughed like one of 
thé blest, as I left him, at the situation. 

I résume ; seeing that I hnd nothing to hope from 
bankers, I reflected that I owed three hundred francs to 
my doctor ; I went and paid them with one of my com- 
mercial notes, and he returned me seven hundred francs, 
less the discount. From tliere 1 went to my landlord, an 
old wheat-dealer in the Halle ; I paid him my rent, and 



74 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

he returned me on my note, which lie accepted, seven 
hundred more francs, less the discount. From there 1 
went to my tailor, who at once took one of my thousand- 
franc notes and put it in his mémorandum of discount 
[bordereau d'escompte — cash account?] and returned me 
a thousand francs ! 

Finding myseif in the humour, I got into a cabriolet 
and went to see a friend, a double millionnaire, a friend 
of twenty years' standing. He had just returned from 
Berlin. I found him; he turned to his desk and gave me 
two thousand francs, and took two of my notes from 
Madame Béchet without looking at them. Oh ! oh ! I 
came home, I sent for my wood merchant and my grocer 
to corne and settle our accounts, and to each I paid, in 
bank-bills, five hundred francs! At four o'clock I was 
free, my payments for to-day prepared. Hère I am, tran- 
quil for a month. I résume my seat on my fragile sea- 
saw and my imagination rocks me. Ecco, signora ! 

My dear, faithful wife, did I not owe you this faith- 
ful picture of your Paris household? Yes, but there are 
five thousand francs of the twenty-seven thousand eaten 
up, and I hâve, before I can go to Geneva, ten thousand 
francs to pay : three thousand to my mother, one thou- 
sand to my sister, and six thousand in indemnities. 
"Yah! monsieur, where will you get ail that? " In my 
inkbottle, dearly beloved Eva. 

I am dressed like a lord, I hâve dined with Madame 
Delphine, and, after being présent at the death agony of 
" L'Europe littéraire,'' I went joyously to Gérard's, where 
I complimented Grisi, whom I had hearcl the night before 
in " La Gazza ladra" with Rossini, who, having met me 
Tuesday on the Boulevard, forced me to go to his opera- 
box to talk un poco : and as on that Tuesday your poor 
Honoré had dined with Madame d'A[brantès] who had 
to render him an account of the great negotiation (which 
missed fire) with Maine, he had, your poor youth, to 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 75 

drown his sorrows in harmony. What a life, ma 
minette! What strange discordances, what contrasts! 

At Gérard's I heard the admirable Vigano. She re- 
fused to sing, snubbed everybody; I arrived, I asked 
lier for an air ; she sat down at the piano, sang, and de- 
lighted us. Thiers asked who I was ; being told, he 
said, k4 It is ail plain, now." And the whole assembly 
of artists marvelled. 

The secret of it is that I was, last winter, full of admi- 
ration for Madame Vigano ; I idolize lier sirging ; she 
knows that, and I ara a Kreizler to lier. I went to bed 
at two o'clôck after returning on foot through the de- 
serted, silent streets of the Luxembourg quarter, admiring 
the blue sky and the effects of moon and vapour on the 
Luxembourg, the Panthéon, Saint- Sulpice, the Val-de- 
Grâce, the Observatoire, and the boulevards, drowned in 
torrents of thought and carrying two thousand francs 
upon me — though I had forgotten them ; my valet found 
them. That night of love had plunged me in ecstasy; 
you were in the heavens ! they spoke of love ; I walked, 
listeniug whether from those stars your cherished voice 
woulcl fall, sweet and harmonious, to my ears, and 
vibrate in my heart ; and, my idol, my flower, my life, I 
embroidered a few arabesques on the evil stufï of my days 
of anguish and toil. 

To-day, Thursday, hère I am back again in my study, 
correcting proofs, recovering from my trips into the 
material world, resuming my chimeras, my love ; and in 
forty-eight hours the charms of mid night rising, going to 
}>ed at six in the evening, frugality, and bodily inaction 
will be resumed. 

We hâve had, for the last week, an actual summer ; 
the finest weather ever created. Paris is superb. Love 
of my life, a thousand kisses are committed to the airs 
for you ; a thousand thoughts of happiness are shed 
during my rushing about, and I know not what disdain 



76 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

in seeing raen. They hâve not, as I hâve, an immense 
love in their hearts, a tlirone before which I prostrate 
myself without servility, the figure of a madonna, a beau- 
tiful brow of love which I kiss at ail hours, an Eve who 
gilds ail my dreams, who lights my life. 

Adieu, my constant thought, à demain. I may not be 
so talkative; to-morrow cornes toil. 

Friday. 

i bave worked ail da} 7 at two proofs which hâve taken 
me twenty hours ; then I must, I think, liud something to 
complète my second volume of " c Scènes de la Vie de 
province " because to make a fine book the printers so 
compress my manuscript that another Scène is wantéd of 
forty or fifty pages. Nothing to-day, therefore, to lier 
who lias ail my heart ; nothing but a thousand kisses, 
and my dear evening thouglus when ï u:o to sleep think- 
ing of you. 

To-morrow, prefty Eve. 

Saturday. 

Certainly, my love, you will not act comedy. I hâve 
not spoken to you of that. I hâve just re-read your last 
letter. It is a prostitution to exhibil one's self in diat 
way ; to speak wonls of love. Oh ! be sacredly mine! If I 
should tell you to what a point my delicacy goes, you would 
think me worthy of an ange! like yoursclf. I love you in 
me. I wish to live far away from you, like the (lower in 
the seed, and to K»t my sentiuunts blo^som for you alone. 

To-day I hâve laboriously invented tiie tk Cabinet des 
Antiques;" you will read that some day. I v, r rote seven- 
teen of the feuillet* at once. I am very tired. I am 
going to dress to dine with my publisher, where T shaîl 
ineet Beranger. I shall get home late ; I hâve st'.li some 
business to settle. 

My cherished love, as soon as the first part appears 
and the second is printed l shall tîy to Geneva and stay 
there a good three weeks. J shall go to the ïlotel de la 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 77 

Couronne, in tbe gloomy chamber I occupied [in 1832]. 
I quiver twenty times a day at the idea of seeing y ou. 
I meant to speak to you of Madame de C[astries], but I 
hâve not the time. Twenty-five day s hence I will tell 
you by word of mou th. In two words, your Honoré, my 
Eva, grew angered by the coldness whieh simulated 
friendsliip. I said what I thought; the reply was that I 
ought not to see again a woman to whom I could say 
sueh cruel things. I asked a thousand pardons for the 
" great liberty," and we continue on a very cold footing. 

I hâve read Hoffmann through ; he is beneath his répu- 
tation ; there is something of it, but not much. Ile writes 
well of music; lie does not understand love, or woman ; 
he does not cause fear ; it is impossible to cause it with 
physical things. 

One kiss and I go. 

Sunday. 

Up at eight o'clock; I came in last night at eleven. 
Hère are my hours upset for four days. Frightful loss ! 
I awaited the old gentleman on whose behaif I implorée! 
Delphine. He dicl not corne. It is eleven o'clock, — no 
letter from Geneva. What anxiety ! O my love, I entreat 
you, try to send me letters on régulai* days; spare the 
sensibility of a child's heart. You know how virgin my 
love is. Strong as my love is, it is délicate, oh ! my dar- 
ling. I love you as you wish to be loved, solely. In my 
solitude a mère nothing troubles me. My blood is stirred 
by a syllable. 

I hâve just corne from my garden ; I hâve gathered 
one of the last violets in bloom there ; as I walked I ad- 
dressecl to you a hymn of love ; take it, on this violet ; 
take the kisses placée! upon the rose-leaf. The rose is 
kisses, the violet is thoughts. My work and you, that is 
the world to me. Beyond that, nothing. I avoid ail that 
is not my Eva, my thoughts. Dear flower of heaven, my 
fairy, you hâve touched ail hère with your wancl; hère, 



78 Honoré de Balzac, [1833 

through y ou, ail is beautiful. However embarrassed life 
uiay be, it is smooth, it is even. Above my head I sec 
fi ue skies. 

Well, to-morrow, I sliall bave a letter. Adieu, my 
cberisbed soûl ! Tbank you a thousand times for y oui* 
kind letters ; do not spare tbem. I would like to be 
ahvays writing to you ; but, poor unfortunate, I am 
obliged to think sometiuies of tlie gold I draw from my 
inkstaud. You are my beart; what can I give you? 

Paris, YTednesday, Xovember 6, 1833. 

The agonies you bave gone through, my Eve, I hâve 
very cruelly felt, for your letter arrivée! only to-day. I 
eannot deseribe ail tlie horrible cbimeras which tortured 
me from time to time ; for the delay of one of your letters 
puts everything in tloubt between you and me; the delay 
of one of mine does not imply so many evils to fear. 

As to the last page of you-r letter, endeavour to forget 
it. I pardon it, and I surfer at your distress. To be 
unjust and ill-natured ! You remind me of the man who 
thought bis dog mad and killed liim, and then perceived 
that lie was warning liim not to lose bis forgotten treasurc. 

You speak of death. There is something more dread- 
ful, and that is pain ; and I bave just endurée! one of 
which I will not speak to you. As to my relations with 
the person you speak of, I never h ad any that vvere very 
tender ; I bave noue now. I answered a very unimpor- 
tant letter, and, apropos of a sentence, I explained my- 
self ; that was ail. There are relations of politeness due 
to women of a certain rank vvhom one bas known ; but a 
visit to Madame Récamier is not, I suppose, relations, 
wlien one goes to see lier once in three months. 

Mon Dieu! the man who seems to be justifying bimself 
bas just been stabbed to the heart. Ile smiles to you, 
my Eve, and this man does not sleep — he, rather a sleepy 
man — more than five hours and a half . Ile works seven- 



t833] Letters to, Madame Hanska. 79 

teen hours, to be able to stay a week in your sight; I sell 
years of my life to go and see you. Tins is not a re- 
proach. But you may say to me, you, that perhaps I love 
the pages I write from necessity better than my love. 
"But with you I am not proud, I am not humble. I ara, I 
try to be, you. You hâve suffered ; I suffer, — you wished 
to make me suffer. You will regret it. Try that it may 
not happen again ; you will break the heart that loves 
you, as a child breaks a toy to look inside of jt. Poor 
Eva! So we do not know each other? Oh, yes, we do, 
don't we? 

Mon Dieu! to punish me for my confidence! for the 
joy that I feel more and more in solitude ! I don't know 
where my mother is ; it is two months that no one lias 
any news of her. No letters from my brother. My sister 
is in the country, guarded by duennas fastened on her 
by lier husband, and he is travelling. So I hâve no one 
to tell you about. The dilecta is with her son at Chau- 
mont, with the devil. I am myself in a torrent of proofs, 
corrections, copies, works. And it is at the moment 
when I expected to plunge into ail my joys that, after 
your first pages, I find the pompous praise of . . . , mon 
Dieu ! and my accusation and condemnation, which will 
bleed long in a heart like mine. 

I am sad and melancholy, wounded, weeping, and 
awaiting the serenity that never cornes full and complète. 
If you wished that, if you wished to pour upon my life as 
much pain as I hâve toil (impossible now), Eva, you hâve 
succeeded. As to anger, no; reproaches? what good are 
they? Either you are in despair at having pained me, or 
you are content to hâve clone so. 1 do not doubt you. I 
would like to console you ; but you hâve cruelly abused 
the distance that séparâtes us, the poverty that prevents 
my taking a post-chaise, the engagements of honour which 
forbid me to leave Paris before the 25th or 26th of 
this month, You hâve been a woman ; I thought you an 



80 Honoré de Btihac. [i8.'J3 

augel. I may love you the better for it; you bring yonr- 
self nearer to me. 1 will snhle to you without ceasing. 
Ever since I knew the Indian maxim, " Never strike, 
even with a flower, a worniin with a hundred faults," I 
hâve made tliat the rule of my conduct. But it does not 
prevent me from feeling to the heart, more violently than 
those who kill their mistresscs i'eel, insults, and suspicions 
of evil. I, so exclusive, tainced with commoimess ! made 
petty enough to be Iowered to vengeance ! What 3 that 
love so pure, you stain it with suspicion, with blâme, with 
doubt! God himseîf cannot eiïace what lias been ; lie 
may oppose the future, but not the past ! 

I cannot write more ; I rave; my ideas are confused. 
After twelve hours of toil I wanted a little rest, and to- 
day I must rest in suiïering. Oh ! my only love, what 
grief to look on what \ write to you, to weigh my words, 
and not say ail tîiat is without évasion, bccause I am with- 
out reproach. Oh! I suffer. î hâve not a passing pas- 
sion, but a one sole love ! 

Xovoniher, 10, 18*i.'i. 

I posted a lctter last night, not expecting to be al)le to 
write again ; I suffered too mue h. My neuralgia attacked 
me. Tliat is a secret between me and my doctor ; lie 
made me take some ])ilîs, and I am better this morning. 
But, can I lielp it? your ietter burns my heart. I will go 
to Geneva, I will pass my winter there. At least you 
shall not hâve the right to émit suspicions. You shall 
see my life of toil, and } T ou will perceive lie baibarity 
there is in arming yourself with my confidence in open- 
ing my heart to you. I, who want to think in you! I, 
who detach myself from everything to be more wholïy 
your s ! 

Deceive you ! But, as you say yourself, thrt would be 
too easy. Besides, is tliat my character? Love is to me 
ail confidence. I believe in you as in myseîf. What you 



1883] Letters to Madame Iîanska. 81 

say of that eompatriot [Madame de Castries is meant] 
makes me suffer, but I clo not doubt it. I shall not speak 
to you of tlie cause of your imprécation, u Go to the 
feet of your marquise" \_Va aux pieds de to, marquise], 
except verbally. 1 

I bave five important affairs to terminate, but I shall 
sacrifice ail to be on tlie 25th in Geneva, at tbat inn of 
the Pré-1'Evêque. But we shall see each other very 
little. I must go to bed at six in the evening, to rise 
at midnight. But from midday till four o'clock every 
day I can be with you. For that I must do things hère 
that seem impossible; 1 shall attempt them. If they 
cause me a thousand troubles I shall go to Geneva, and 
forget everythiug there to see but one thing, the one 
heart, the one woman by whom I live. 

I would give my life that that horrible page had not 
been written. To reproach me for my very dévotion ! 

1 This wliole présentation of Madame Iîanska justifies, and even 
demands, a few words liere. Judgiug lier by the genuine letters in 
this volume, — wliicli are, so far as I know, our only menus of judgiug 
lier at ail at this distance of time, — slie was a woman of principle, 
dignity, intelligence, and good-breeding ; with a strong sensé of duty, 
and a certain deliberateness of nature, shown in the fact that it was 
eight years after M. Hanski's death before she consented to marry 
Balzac. lier love for him was plainly much less than bis for her ; 
but she was proud of his dévotion, and always unwilling to lose it. 
That a woman of her position and character ever wrote to Balzac those 
w r ords, " Va aux jrieds de ta marquise," is an impossibility. There are 
certain things tha': a woman of breeding cannot do or say; thougli some 
who do not know what such w r omen are do not perceive this. 

Writing a few weeks hiter than the above letter (from Geneva in 
January, 1834) to his intimate friend, Madame Carraud, Balzac bears 
the following little testimony to Madame ÎTanska's feeling to his 
friencb: "I hope you know what the security of friendship is, and 
that you will not say to me again, ' Bear me in inemory,' when some 
one hère [Madame Iîanska] says to me, ' I am happy in knowing 
that you inspire such friendsbips ; that justifies mine for you.' " (Ed. 
T)ef. vol. xxiv , p. 192). This is the woman whose memory a few meii 
are now endeavouring to smirch. — Tr. 

6 



82 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Do you believe that 1 would not leave ail, and go with 
you to the depths of some retreat? You arm youiself 
with the plira.se in whieh I sacrifice (the word meant noth- 
ing, there is no sacrilice) to you ail ! 

Why hâve you flung suffering into what was so sweet? 
You hâve made me give to grief the time that belonged 
to the toil which facilitâtes m y means of going to you 
sooner. 

1 await, with an impatience beyond words, a letter, a 
line ; you hâve completely upset me. No, you do not 
know the cbildlike heart, the poet's heart, that you hâve 
bruised. I am a man to suffer, then ! 

Adieu. Did I tell you the story of that man who wrote 
drinking-songs in order to bury an adored mistress? To 
work with a heart in mourning is my l'a te till your next 
letter cornes. You owe me your life for this fatal week. 
Oh! my angel, mine belongs to you. Break, strike, but 
love me still. I adore you as ever ; but hâve mercy on 
the innocent. I do not know if you bave formed an idea 
of what I hâve to do. I must finish with the printing of 
four volumes before I can start, I must compound with 
five difliculties, pay eight thousand francs; and the four 
volumes make one hundred feuilles, or one hundred times 
sixteen pages, to be revised each three or four times, 
without counting the manuscripts. 

Well, I will lose sleep, I will risk ail, but you will see 
me near you on the 20th at latest. 

To-morrow I shall write openly to Madame Hanska to 
announce my parcel. 

May I put hère a kiss full of tears? Will it be taken 
with love ? Make no more storms without cause in what 
is so pure. 

It is midday. That you may get this in time, I send it 
to the gênerai post-office. 



1833] Letter 8 to Madame Hanska. 83 

Paris, Thursday, Kovember 12, 1833 

It is six o'clock ; I am going to bed, much îi tigued by 
certain errands \_eourses~] made for pressing aïïairs ; for I 
hâve hope, at the cost of three thousand francs in money, 
of compromising on the litigious affair whieli causes me 
the most anxiety. On returning home I found your letter 
sent Friday, with thaï kind page which effaces ail my 
pain. 

O my adored angel, as long as you do not fully know 
the bloom of sensitiveness which constant toil and almost 
perpétuai seclusion hâve left in my heart, you will not 
understand the ravages that a word, a doubt, a suspicion 
can cause. In walking tins morning through Paris I said 
to myself that commercially the mcst simple contract 
could not be broken without attainting probity ; but hâve 
you not broken, without hearing me, a promise that bound 
us forever? 

This is the last time that I shall speak to you of that 
letter except when, in G eue va, I shall explain to you 
what gave rise to it. Fear nothing; I havc finished ail 
my visits, and shsll not go again to Gérard's. I refuse 
ail invitations, I hibernate completely, and the woman 
most ambitious of love could find nothing to blâme 
in me. 

But alas! ail that I hâve been ab]e to do bas been to 
take one more hour from sleep. I must sleep five hours. 
My doctor, whom I saw this morning, and who knows 
me since I was ten years old (a friend of the house), is 
always fearful on seeing how I work. He threatens me 
with an inflammation of the integuments of my cérébral 
nerves : — 

"Yes, doctor," I told him, "if I committed excesc 
npon excess ; but for three years I hâve been as chaste 
as a young girl, I never drink either wine or liquors, my 
food is weighed, and the return of my neuralgia cornes 
less from work than from ^rief." 



81 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Ile shruggcd his slioulders and said, looking at 
me : — 

u Your talent costs dear l It is true ; a m an does nT 
hâve a flaming look like youi's if lie addiets himself to 
women." 

There, my love, is a very authentie oertificate of my 
sobriety. The doctor is aiarmed at my work. " Eugénie 
Grandet" makes a thiek volume. I keep the manuscript 
for you. There are pages written in the niidst of anguish. 
They belong to you, as ail of me does. 

My dear love, listen ; y ou must coulent yoiuself with 
having oniy a few sentences, a Une perhaps, per day, if 
you wisli to see me in November at (Jenevu. Apropos, 
write me openly in reply to my open leiter, to corne to 
the inn on the Prc-l'Évêque, and give me ils naine. I 
shall corne for a inonth, and write '* Privilège " there. I 
shall hâve to bring a whole library. 

My love, à bientôt. Nevertheless, I hâve a thousand 
obstructions. The printers, and there are three printing- 
oilices busy with thèse four volumes, \\ ell , they do not 
get on. I. from midnight to midday, I compose; tliat 
is to say, I a m twelve hours in my arm-ehair writing, im- 
provisin^. in the full meaning of tliat terni. Then, from 
midday to four o'clock J correct my proofs. At five I 
dine, at half-past iive 1 am in bed, and a ni wakened at 
midnight. 

Thank you for your kind page; you hâve removed my 
suffering; oh! my good, my treasure, never doubt me. 
Neveu a thought or a word in contradiction of what ï 
hâve said to you with intoxication can trouble the words 
and thoughis that are for you. Oh! make humble répa- 
rations to Madame P. . . Enivrer, the novelist, is not 
in Parliament ; lie lias a brotlierwho is in Parliament, and 
the name lias led even our journalists into error. I made 
the same niistake that you did, but 1 liave verified the 
matter carcfully. Bulwer is now in Paris, — the novelist, 



1833] Letters to Madame Hansha. 85 

I mean. He came yesterday to the Observatoire, but I 
bave not seen him yet. 

You make me like Grosclaude [au artist]. What I want 
is tbe picture be makes for you, aud a copy equal to tbe 
original. I sball put it before me in my stiuly, and wben 
I ain in searcb of words, corrections, I sbaii see wbat 
you are looking at. 

Tbere is a sublime scène (to my mmd, and I am 
rewarded for having it) in " Eugénie Grandet," wbo 
offers her fortune to lier cousin. Tbe cousin makes an 
answer; what I said to you on tbat subject was more 
grâce fui. But to mingle a single word tbat I bave said 
to my Eve in what others will read! — ah! I would ratber 
fling ct Eugénie Grandet," into the lire. Oh, my love! 
I cannot find veils enough to veil it from everyone. Oh! 
you will only know in ten years tbat I love you, and how 
ivell I love you. 

My dear gentille, when T take this paper and speak to 
you I let myself flow into pleasure ; 1 could write to you 
ail night. 1 am obliged to mark a certain hour at my 
waking ; when it rings I ought to stop, and it rang long 
ago. 

Till to-morrow. 

Wednesdav. 

After tbe 22nd, including tbe 22 nd, do not post any 
more letters ; I sball not receive thein. Oh ! I would like 
to intoxicate myself so as not to think during the journey. 
Three days to be saying to myself, "I am going to see 
lier!" Ah! you know what tbat is, don't \ 7 ou? It is 
dying of impatience, of pleasure! I bave just sent you 
tbe licensed letter, and I am now going to do up the 
parcel and arrangé the box. I bave returned the remain- 
der of the pebbles ; I had not the riglit to lose what 
Anna picked up; and I would not compromise Mademoi- 
selle Hanska by keeping them. 

Oh ! let me laugb after weeping. T sball soon see you. 



86 Honoré de Balzac. [IS33 

1 bring you the most sublime masterpiece of poesy, an 
epistle or Madame Desbordes- Vahnore, the original of 
winch I hâve ; I réserve it for you. To-morrow, Thursday, 
I hope to be deiivered of ^ Eugénie Grandet." The man- 
uscript will be finislied. J must immediately finish fcfc JS T e 
touchez pas à la hache." 

I do not know how it is that you eau go and put yourself 
so often into the midst of that atmosphère of (ienevese 
pedautry. But also I know there is nothing so agreeable 
as to be in the midst of society with a great thonght, oh ! 
my beautiful angel, my Eva, niy trea^ures, of whieh the 
world is ignorant. 

Nothing could be more false than what that traveller 
told you a bout Madame C . . . You understand, my 
love, that the ambitions manner in whieh I now présent 
myself in society must engender a thoinaud calumnies, a 
thousand absurd versions. To give you an example : I 
hâve a glass I value, a saucer, ont of whieh my aunt, 
an angel of grâce and goodness who died in the flower 
of her âge, drank for the last time ; and my grand- 
mother, who loved me, kept it on her fi replace for ten 
years. Well, my lawyer heard some man in a literary 
reading-room say that my life was attachcd to a talis- 
man, a glass, a saucer; and my talent also. There are 
things of love and pride and nobleness in certain lives 
whieh others would ratlier calumniate than comprehend. 

Latouche lias said a frightful thing of hatred to one 
of my friends. Ile met him on the quay ; they spoke of 
me, — Latouche with immense praises (in spite of our 
séparation). " Yfhat pleases me about him," he said, 
" is that I begin to believe he will bury them ail." 

Mon Dieu! how I love your dear letters; not those in 
whieh you scold, but those in whieh you tell me minutely 
what happens to you. Oh ! tell me ail ; let me read in 
your soûl as I would like to make you read in mine. 
Tell me the praises that your adorable beauty receives, 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 87 

and if any one looks at your h air, your pretty throat, 
your little hands, tell me his name. You are my most 
precious famé. We hâve, they say, stars in heaven; 
you, you are my star corne clown, — tue light in which 1 
live, the light toward which I go. 

How is it that you speak to me of what I write. It is 
what I think and do not say that is beautiful, it is my 
love for you, its cortège of ideas, it is ail that I fain 
would say to you, in your ear, with no more atmosphère 
between us. 

I do not like "Marie Tudor;" from the analyses in 
the newspapers, it seems to me nasty. I hâve no time to 
go and see the play. I hâve no time to live. I shall 
live only in Geneva. And what work I must do even 
there ! There, as hère, 1 shall hâve to go to bed at six 
o'clock and get up at midnight. But from midday to 
five o'clock, O love ! what strength I shall get from 
your glances. What pleasure to read to you, chapter by 
chapter, the " Privilège" or other taies, my cherished 
love ! 

Do not think that there is the least pride, the least 
false dehcacy in my refusai of w r hat you know of, the 
golden drop you hâve put angelically aside. Who knows 
if some day it might not stanch the blood of a wound ? 
and from you alone in the world I could accept it. I 
know you would receive ail from me. But no; reserve 
ail for things that I might perhaps accept from you, in 
order to surround myself with you, and think of you in 
ail things. My love is greater than my thought. 

Find hère a thousaud kisses and caresses of flame. I 
would like to clasp you in my soûl. 

Paris, Wednesday, November 13, 1833. 
Madame, — I think that the house of Hanski will not 
refuse the slight souvenirs which the house of Balzac 
préserves of a gracious and most joyous hospitality. I 



88 Honoré de Balzac [1833 

hâve tîie honour to address you, bureau reniant at Geneva, 
a little case forwarded by the Messageries of the rue Notre- 
Dame-des- Victoires. You bave no doubt been accusing 
the frivoiity and carelessness of the u Frenchman " (for- 
getting tluit I am a Gaul, notliing but a Gaul), and hâve 
never thought of ail the dîrfienlties of Parisian life, which 
hâve, however, procured me the pieasiire of l)usying my- 
self long for you and Anna. The delay cornes from the 
fact that I wanted to keep ail m y promises. Permit me 
to hâve some vanity in m y pcrsistence. 

Before the sublime Fossin deîgned to leave the diadems 
and crowns of princes to set the pcbbies picked up by 
your daughtcr, I luid to entreat him, and be very humble, 
and often leave my retreat, where I am bnsy in setting 
poor phrases. Pérore I could gel the best cotignac fquince 
marmalade] from Orléans, inasmueh as you want to be a 
ehild again and taste it, there was need of correspondence. 
And foreseeing that you woukl find tlie marmalade beiow 
its réputation, 1 wanted to add some of the clingstone 
pcaches of Touraine, that you might feeî, gastronomically, 
the air of my native région. Forgive me that Tourainean 
vanity. And finally, in order to send you •• La Carica- 
ture " complète, 1 had to wait till its year was ended and 
thon submit to the delays of the binder, — that high power 
that oppresses my library. 

For your beautifuî liait* notliing was more easy, and you 
will find what you deigned to ask me for. 1 shall hâve 
the honour to brïng you myself the recipe for the wonder- 
fal preservative pomade, which you oan make yourself 
in the deptiis of the Ukraine, and so not lose one of your 
beauteous black hairs. 

Rossini lias lately writton me a note ; I send it to you 
as an offering to Monsieur Ilanski, his passionate admirer. 
You see, madame, that I hâve not forgotten you, and that if 
my work ailows I shall soon be in Gène va to tell you myself 
what sweet memories I préserve of oui* happy meeting. 



1833] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 89 

You admire Chénier; there is a new édition just pub- 
lished, more complète than the preceding ones. Do Dot 
buy it; arrange that I may read to you, myself, thèse 
various poems, and perhaps you will then attach more 
value to the volumes I shall sélect for you hère. That 
sentence is not vain or impertinent ; it is the expression 
of a hope with wholly youthful frankness. 

I hope to be in Geneva on the 25 th ; but, al as ! for 
that I hâve to finish four volumes, and though I work 
eighteen hours out of the twenty-four, and hâve given up 
the music of the opéra and ail the joys of Paris to stay in 
my cell, I am afraid that the coalition of workmen of 
which we are now victims will make my efforts corne to 
nought. I wish, as I hâve to make this journey, that I 
might find a little tranquillity in it, and remain away from 
that furnace called Paris for a fortnight, to be employed in 
some far niente. But I shall probably hâve to work more 
than I wish to. 

Give the most gracions expression of my sentiments 
and remembrances to Monsieur Hanski, kiss Mademoiselle 
Anna in my name, and accept for yourself my respectful 
homage. Will you believe me, and not laugh at me if I 
tell you that, often, I see again your beautiful head in 
that landscape of the île Sainte-Pierre, when, in the 
middle of my nights, weary w T ith toil, I gaze into my fire 
without seeing it, and turn my mind to the most agreeable 
memories of my life ? There are so f ew pure moments, 
free of ail arrière-pensées, naïve as our own childhood, in 
this life. Hère, I see nothing but enmities about me. 
Who could doubt that I revert to scènes where nothing 
but good-will surrounded me? I do not forget either 
Mademoiselle Séverine or Mademoiselle Borel. 

Adieu, madame ; I place ail my obeisances at your 
feet. 



90 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

Paris, Sunday, November 17, 1833. 

Thursday, Friday, and yesterday it was impossible for 
me to write to you. The case does not start till to-mor- 
row, Monday, so tliat you will hardîyget it before Thurs- 
day or Friday. Teli me what you think of Anna's cross. 
We hâve been governed by the pebbles, which prevent 
anything pretty being made of them. The colignac made 
everybody send me to tlie deuee. They wrote me from 
Orléans that I must wait till tlie fresh was made, which 
was better than tlie old, and that I sliould hâve it in foui- 
or five days. So, not wishing it to f ail you as announced, 
T rushed to ail the dealers in eatables, who one and ail 
told me they never sold two boxes of that marmalade 
a year, and so had given up keeping it. Eut at Corcelet's 
I fou n d a last box; lie told me there was no one but him 
in Paris who kept that article, and that he would hâve 
some fresh colignac soon. I took the box ; and you will 
not hâve the fresh till my arrivai, cara. 

As for Rossini, I Avant him to write me a nice letter, 
and he lias just invited me to dine with lus mistress, who 
happens to be that beautiful Judith, tlie former mistress 
of Horace Verne t and of Eugène Bue, you know. He lias 
promised me a note about music, etc. He is very oblig- 
ing; we hâve chased each other for two days. No one 
lias au idea with what tenacity one must will a thing in 
Paris to hâve it. The smaller a thing is, the less one 
obtains it. 

I liave now obtained an excellent concession from 
Gosselin. I shall not do the u Privilège " at Geneva. I 
shall do two volumes of the " Contes Philosophiques " 
there, which will not oblige me to make researches ; and 
tins leaves me free to go and corne without the dreadful 
paraphernalia of a library. 1 am afraid I cannot leave 
hère before the 2Gth, my poor angel. Money is a terrible 
thing ! I must pay four thousand francs iudemnities to 
get peace ; and hère I am forced to begin ail over again 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 91 

to raise money on publishers' notes, and I bave ten 
thousand francs to pay the last of December, besides 
three thousand to my mother. It is enough to make one 
lose one's head. *And when I tliink that to compose, to 
work, one needs great calmness, to forget ail ! 

If I hâve started on the 25th I shall be lucky. Of one 
Imnàred feuilles wanted to-day, Sunday, I hâve only eight 
of one volume and four of another printed, eleven set up 
of one and five of the other. I am expecting the fabrica- 
tors this morning to inform them of m y ultimatum. Why ! 
in sixteen hours of work — and what work ? — I do in one 
hour what the cleverest workmen in a printing- office can- 
not do in a day. I shall never succeed! 

In the judgment of ail men of good sensé, "Marie 
Tudor " is an inf amy, and the w T orst thing there is as a 
play. 

Mon Dieu ! I re-read your letters with incredible pleas- 
ure. Aside from love, for which there is no expression, 
we are, in them, heart to heart ; you bave the most re- 
fined of minds, the most original, and, dearest, how you 
speak to ail my natures! Soon I can tell you more in a 
look than in ail my letters, which tell nothing. 

I put in a leaf of sweet-scented camellia ; it is a rarity ; 
I bave cast many a look at it. For a week past, as I work 
I look at it ; I seek the words I want, I think of you, who 
bave the whiteness of that flower. 

my love, I would I could hold you in my arms, at 
this moment when love gushes up in my heart, when I 
hâve a thousand desires, a thousand fancies, when I see 
you with the eyes of the soûl only, but in which you are 
truly mine. This warmtb of soûl, of heart, of thought, 
will it w r rap you round as you read thèse lines ? I think 
of you when I hear music. Adoremus in œternum, iriy 
Eva, — that is our motto, is it not ? 

Adieu; à bientôt. What pleasure I shall hâve in ex- 
plaining to you the caricatures you cannot understand. 



92 Honoré de Balzac. L 1833 

Do you want anything from Paris? Tell me. You eau 
still write the day after you receive tiiis letter. The 
eamellia-Ieaf bears you my soûl ; I hâve held it between 
my lips in writing this page, tu ut I might lill it with 
teuderness. 

Païus, Xovenibor 20, IS'.Vl, fi vc in the morning. 

]\[y dear vvife of love, fatigue lias corne at last; I lune 
gathered the fruit of thèse constant night-watehes and 
my continuai anxieties. I hâve many griefs. In re- 
reading " Les Célibataires " which 1 had re-corrected 
again and again, I iind déplorable faults after printing. 
Then, my lawsuits Juive not ended. I await to-day the 
resuit of a transaction which will end everything between 
JMame and me, I send hini four thousand francs, my 
last resources. Ilere I ara, once more as poor as Job, and 
yet this week I must iind twelve hundred francs to settle 
another litigious affair. OIi! how dearly is famé bought ! 
how difficult men make it to acquire her! No, there is no 
such thing as a cheap great man. 

I couîd not write to you yesterday, or Mond^y; I was 
hurrying about. Ilardly cou kl I re-read my p roofs atten- 
tiveiy. In the midst of ail this worry 1 made fiie words 
of a song for Kossini. 

I was Sunday with Bra, the seulptor ; there I saw tîie 
most beautifui masterpieee that exists ; and I do not 
except either the Olympian Jupiter, or the Moses, or the 
Venus, or the Apollo. It is Mary, holding the infant 
Christ, adored by two angels. If I were rich I would 
hâve that executed in marble. 

There I conceived a most noble book; a little volume 
to which " Louis Lambert " should be the préface ; a 
work entitled " S<'raplrita." Séraphita will be two na- 
tures in one single being — like u Fragoletta," with this 
différence, that I suppose this créature an angel arrived 
at the last transformation, and breaking through the 
enveloping bonds to rise to heaveu. This angel is loved 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 93 

by a man and by a woman, to whom he says, as he goes 
upward through the skies, that they bave each lovecl the 
love tbat linked them, seeing it in him, an angel ail purity ; 
and be reveals to them tbeir passion, be leaves tliem love, 
as he eseapes oui* terrestrial miseries. If I can, I will 
write tbis noble work at Geneva, near to you. 

But the conception of tbis multi-toned Séraphita bas 
wearied me ; it bas lasbed me for two days. 

Yesterday I sent Rossini's autograph, extremely rare, 
to Monsieur Hanski, but the song for you. I am afraid 
I cannot leave hère l)efore 27tb; seventeen bours of toil 
do not suflice. In a few bours you will receive my last 
letter, whicb will calrn your fears and your sweet repent- 
ance. I would now like to be tortured — if it clid not 
make me suffer so much. Oh ! your adorable letters ! 
And you beiieve that I will not burn those sacred effu- 
sions of your heart ! Oh! never speak of that again. 

To-day, 20th, I bave still one hundred pages of " Eu- 
génie Grandet" to write, " Ne touchez pas à la hache " 
to finish, and " La Femme aux yeux rouges" to do, and 
I need at least ten days for ail that. I sball arrive dead. 
But I can stay in Geneva as long as you do. Tbis is 
bow: if I am ricb enough I will lose fîve hundred francs 
on each volume to bave it put in t\ 7 pe and corrected in 
Geneva; and I will send to Paris a single corrected proof, 
and they will reprint it under the eyes of a friend who 
will read the sheets. It is such a pièce of folly that I 
sball do it. Wbat do you say to it? 

Yesterday my arm-chair, the companion of my vigils, 
broke. It is the second I bave had killed under me since 
the beginning of the battle that I fîght. 

When people ask me where I am going, and wby I 
leave Paris, I tell them I am going to Rome. 

Coffee has no longer any effect upon me. I must leave 
it off for some time that it may recover its virtues. 

My dearest Eva, I sbould like to iind in that inn you 



94 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

speak of, a very quiet room where no noise could pene- 
trate, for I hâve truly unie h work to do. I shall work 
only my twelve hours, t'rom midnight to midday, but 
those I must hâve. 

I cannot tell you how thèse delays of tlie printer annoy 
me ; I am ill of them. Ail the day of Monday was 
oeeupied by an old man of sixty-iive, a inan belonging to 
the first families of Franche-Comté, fallen into poverty, 
for whom I was entreated by the lady in Angouleme to iind 
a situation. My heart is stiil wruug at the sight of him. 
I took him to Emile de Girardin, who gave him a place 
at a hundred francs a inoiith. A man with white hair 
who lives on bread only, lie and his family, whiie I, I live 
luxuriously, my (lod ! I did what I could. Peoplo call 
thèse good actions ; G-od thinks of those who compas- 
sionate the miseries of others. Just now God is crushing 
me a good deal. But it is true that you love me, and I 
worship you, and that enables me to bear ail. I h ad to 
dine with Emile and his wife, and lose a day and a night ; 
what a sacrifice! Ten years henee to give awa} T a hun- 
dred thousand francs would be less. 

Adieu for to-day. I hâve rested myself for a moment 
on your heart, oh, my dear joy, my gentle haven, my sole 
thought, my flower of heaven! Adieu, then. 

Satur.lîiy, 23 rd. 

From Thursday until to-day T liave often thought of 
you, but to write lias been impossible. I hâve a weight 
of a hundred thousand pounds on my shoulders. Yes, 
my angel, I am quit of that publisher at the cost of four 
thousand francs. My lawyer, my notary, and a procureur 
du Roi hâve examined the receipt. AU is ended between 
us; agreements destroyed ; T owe him neither sou nor 
line. I hâve deposited the document, precious to me, 
with m y notary. 

The next day T completed, also at a cost of three 



1833] * Letters to Madame Hansha. 95 

thousand francs (making seven thousand in a week), my 
other transaction. But as I had not enough money I 
drew a note for five days, and by Wednesday, "27 th, I must 
hâve twelve hundred francs ! I hâve, besides, a little 
prociïlon to compoimd for, but that is only for money not 
y et due. 1 hâve still two other matters concerning my 
literary property to bring to an end before I can start. 
I am absolutely without a sou ; but, at least, I am tran- 
quil in minci. 1 shall always hâve to work immensely. 

Now in relation to the Mind manufactory, this is where 
I am: I hâve still twenty-five feuilles to do to finish 
4 4 Eugénie Grandet ; " I hâve the proof s to revise. Then 
u Ne touchez pas à la hache " to finish, with the " Femme 
aux yeux rouges " to do ; also the proofs of two volumes 
to read. It is impossible for me to start till ail that is 
done. I calculate ten days ; this is now the 24th, for it 
is two o'clock in the morning. I cannot get off till .the 
4th, arrive the 7th, and stay till January 7 th. Moreover, 
in orcler that I may stay, the " Médecin de campagne" 
must be sold, I must write a " Scène de la Vie de cam- 
pagne " at Geneva, and the other " Scènes de la Vie de 
campagne " must be published, during my absence, iu 
Paris. However, I want to start on the 4th at latest. 
Therefore, you can write to me till the 30th. After the 
oOth of this month do not write again. 

Mon Dieu! What time such business consumes! — 
when I think of what T do, my manuscripts, my proofs, 
my corrections, my business affairs! I sleep tranquil, 
thinking that I hâve to pay two thousand four hundred 
francs of acceptances for six days, for winch I hâve not a 
sou ! I hâve lived like this for thirty-four years, and never 
lias Providence forgotten me. And so, I hâve an incred- 
ible confidence. What lias to be done is always done ; and 
you can well believe that to pay seven thousand francs 
with obliges one to sign notes. 

There 's my situation, financial, scriptural, moral, of 



96 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

author, of corrections, of ail in short that is not love, on 
Suuday, the 21th, at half-past one o'clock in the morning. 
I write y ou this just as I get to the eleventh feuillet of 
the lifth chapter of ''Eugénie Grandet," entitled, ^Fam- 
ily Griefs; " and botween a proof of tlie eleventh sheet of 
the book, tliat is to say, at its 17Gth page. When y on 
hâve the manuscript of '• Eugénie Grandet," yoii wiil 
know its history botter tlian any one. 

For the last two d:iys I Jiave had sorae return of my 
cérébral neuralgia; but it was not much, and considering 
my toil and my worries, I ought to think niyself lucky to 
hâve only that. 

Now, do not let us talk any more of the material thin^s 
of life, which, nevertheless, weigh so heavily upon us. 
How you make me again désire riches ! 

My cherished love, liave you tasted your marmalade? 
do you like the peaclies? lias Anna lier cross? hâve you 
laughed at the caricatures? I hâve received your open 
letter, and it has ail the effect upon me of seeing you in 
full dress, in a grand salon, among five hundred persons. 

Oh ! my pretty Eve ! Mon Dieu! how 1 love you ! À 
bientôt. More than ten days, and 1 shall liave done ail I 
ought to do. I shall hâve printed four volumes 8vo in a 
mon th. Oh ! it is only love that eau do such things. M y 
love, oh, suffer from thedelay, but do not scold me. How 
could I know, when £ promised you to return, that I should 
sell the " Etudes de Mœurs " for thirty-six thousand francs, 
and that I should hâve to negotiate payments for nine 
thousand francs of suits? I put myself at your darling 
knees, I kiss them, I caress the ni ; oh, I do in thought 
ail the follies of earth ; I kiss you with intoxication, I 
hold you, I clasp you, I am happy as the angels in the 
bosom of God. 

How nature made me for love ! Is it for that that I am 
condemned to toil? There are times when you are hère 
for me, when I caress you and strew upon your dear per- 



1833] Letters to Madame Kanska. 97 

son ail tlie poesy of caresses. Oh ! there is nobody but 
me, 1 believe, who finds at tbe tips of my fingers and on 
my lips such voluptuousness. 

My beloved, my dear love, my pearl, when shall I 
hâve you wholly mine without fear? If that trip to 
Fribourg of wliich you speak to me had taken place, — 
oh ! say, — 1 think I should hâve drowned myself on the 
return. 

How careful I am of your Chénier; for, this time, I 
will read you Chénier. You shall kuow what love is in 
voice, in looks, in verses, in pages, in ideas. Oh ! he is 
the man for loyers, women, angels. Write " Séraphita " 
beside you ; you wish it. You will annihilate lier after 
having read it. 

I am very tired ; my pen will hardly hold in my fingers ; 
but as soon as it concerns you and our love I fincl strength. 

I hâve satisfied a little f ancy this week ; I gave myself, 
for my bedroom, the prettiest little chimney-piece sconces 
that I e ver saw; and for my banquets, two candelabra. 
Mon Dieu/ a folly is sweet to do! But I meditate a 
greater, which will, at any rate, be useful. It is too 
long to w^rite about. 

Angel of love, do you perfume your hair? Oh, my 
beauty, my darling, my adored one, my dear, dear Eve, 
I am as impatient as a goat tethered to lier stake — though 
you don't like that phrase. I w r oukl I w r ere near you ; you 
hâve become tyrannical, you are the idea of every moment. 
I think that every Une written brings me nearer to you, 
like the turn of a wheel, and from that hope I gather in- 
fernal courage. ... So the lOth, at latest, I shall see 
you. The lOth ! I know that the immense amount of 
work I hâve to do will shorten the time a little. 

Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, God in wdiom I believe, he owes 
me some soft émotions at the sight of Geneva, for I left 
it disconsolate, cursing everything, abhorring womankind. 
With what joy I shall return to it ; my celés tial love, my 

7 



98 Honoré de Balzac. 1833] 

Eva ! Take me with you to your Ukraine ; let us go fîrst 
to Italy. Ail that will be possible, when the tfc Etudes de 
Mœurs " are once publisbed. 

Simday, 23rd, midday. 

So, tlien, at l'Auberge de l'Arc! I sball be tliere 
D,>cember 7th or «Sth without fail. You see I bave re- 
ceived your little note. 

After writing to you last night I was obliged to go to 
bed without working. I was îll. It is iive days now 
since I bave been ont of ray apartments ; I am not very 
well just now, but I think it is only a nervous movement 
causée! by overwork. 

Erom our Windows we shall see each other! — that is 
very dangerons. 

Well, à bientôt. I put in for you a kissed rose-leaf ; 
it carries my son! and the most celestial hope a man can 
hâve hère below. Oh ! my love, you do not know your- 
self how wholly you are mine. I am very greedv. 

Adieu, my beautiful life; there are only a few days 
more. I imagine we can travel to Italy and stay three or 
six months together. 

Adieu, angel, whom I shall soon see face to face. 

Paeis, Decemher 4th, four in the morning. 

My adorée! angel, during thèse eight days I hâve made 
the efforts of a lion; but, in spite of sitting up ail night, I 
do not see that my two volumes can be finished before the 
5th, and the two others I must leave to appear during my 
absence. But on the lOth I get into a carriage, for, 
finished or not, neither my body nor my head, however 
powerful my monk's life makes them, can sustain this 
steam-engine labour. 

So, the loth, I think, I shall be in Geneva. Nothing 
can now change that date. I shall hâve the manuscript of 
4i P^ugénie Grandet " bound, and send it ostensibly to you. 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 99 

I hâve great need of rest, to be near you, — you, the 
angel; you, the thought of whom never fatigues; you, 
who are the repose, the happiness, the beautiful secret 
life of my life ! It is now forty-eight hours that I hâve 
not been in bed. I hâve at this moment the keenest 
anxieties about money. I stripped myself of everything 
to win tranquiliity, of which I hâve such need, and to be 
near you for a little while. But, relying on my publisher, 
yesterday, for my payments at the month's end, lie betrays 
me in the midst of my torrent of work. 

Oh ! decidedly, I will make myself a resource, I will 
hâve a su m in silver-ware which my poetic fancies will 
never touch, but which I can proudly carry to the pawn- 
shop in case of misfortune. In that way one can live 
tranqail, and not hâve to endure the cold, pale look of one's 
childhood's friends, who arm themselves with tbeir friend- 
ship to refuse us. On the lOth I start ; I do not know at 
what hour one arrives, but, whatever be my fatigue, I 
shall go to see you immediately. 

I hâve worked steadily eighteen hours a day this week, 
and I could only sustain myself by baths, which relaxed 
the gênerai irritation. 

What vexations, what goings to and fro ! I had to give 
a great dinner this week, Friday, 29 th. I discovered I 
had neither knives nor glasses. I don't like to hâve in- 
élégant things about me. So I had to run in debt a little 
more ; I tried to do a stroke of business with my silver- 
smith. No. However, I will economize in Geneva by 
working and keeping quiet. 

How I paw, like a poor, impatient horse ! The désire 
to see you makes me find things that, ordinarily, would 
not occur to me. I correct quicker. You not only give 
me courage to support the diffîculties of life, but you give 
me talent, or at least, facility. One must love, my Eve, 
my dear one, to write the love of " Eugénie Grandet," a 
pure ; immense, proud love. Oh! dear, dearest, my good, 



100 Honoré de Balzac. [issa 

my divine Eve, what grief not to hâve been able to write 
you every evening what I hâve doue, said, and thought ! 

Soon, soon, in ten minutes, I can tell you more than in 
a thousand pages, in one look more than in a hundred 
years, because I shall give you ail my heart in that first 
look, O my délicate, beauteous forehead ! I looked at 
that of Madame de Mirbel, the other day ; it is something 
like yours. She is a Poie, I think. 

Paris, Simday, December 1, 1833, eleven o'clock. 

My angel, I hâve just read your letter. Oh! I long to 
fall at your knees, my Eve, my dear wife ! Never hâve 
a second of melancholy thought. Oh ! you do not know 
me ! As long as I live I will be your darling, I will respect 
in myself the heart you hâve chosen ; I no longer bclong 
to myself. There are no follies, no sacrifices ; no, no, 
never! Oh! do not be tlius, never talk to me of lau- 
danum. I rlung aside the proofs of 4t Eugénie Grandet" 
and sprang up as if to go to you. The end of your letter 
lias made me pass over the pain of its beginning. 

My love, my dear love, I shall be near you in a few 
day s ; when you hold this paper full of love for you, to 
which I would like to cominunicate the beatings of my 
lieart, there will be but a few days ; I shall redouble my 
cares, my work, I shall rest down there» 

Uesides, I shall arrange to stay a long time. O my 
love ! make your skies serene, for there is nothing in my 
being but affection, love, tenderness, and caresses for 
you. 

You ought to curse that Gaudissart. The printer took 
a type which compressed the mat ter, and to make out the 
volume I had to improvise ail that in one vhjht, darling, 
and make eighty pages of it, if you please. 

My pretty love, you will receive a fine letter, very po- 
lite, submissive, respectful, with the manuscri])t of 
" Eugénie Grandet," and you will lind in pencil on the 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 101 

baek of tbe first page of manuscript the précise day for 
which I hâve engaged my place in the diligence. 

Yes, I live in y ou, as y ou live in me. Ne ver will God 
separate what he has put together so strongly. My life 
is your life. Do not frighten me thus again. Your sad- 
ness saddens me, your joy makes me joyous. I am in 
your heart ; I listen to your voice at times. In short, I 
hâve the eternal, imperishable, angelic love that I desired. 
You are the beginning and the end, my Eve, — do you 
understand ? — the Eve ! I am as exclusive as you can be. 
In short, Adoremus in œtevnum is my motto ; do you hear 
me, darling? 

Well, it is getting late. I must send this to the gênerai 
post-office, that you may get it Wednesday. 

My love, why make for yourself useless bitterness? 
What I said to you, I will repeat : " It would be too odd 
if that were she," was my thought when I saw you first 
on leaving the Hôtel du Faucon [at Neufchâtel]. 

Adieu ; I hâve no flowers this time ; but I send you an 
end of a cedar match I hâve been chewing while I write ; 
1 hâve given it a thousand kisses. 

Mon Dieu ! I don't know how I shall get over the time 
on the journey, in view of the palpitations of my heart in 
writing to you. You will receive only one more letter, 
that of Sunday next; after that I shall be on the way. O 
my darling, to be near you, without anxieties; to hâve my 
time to myself , to be free to work well and read to you by 
day what I do at night! My angel, to hâve my kiss, — 
the greatest reward for me under heaven ! Your kiss î 

No, you will only know how I love you ten years from 
now, when you fully know my heart, that heart so great, 
that you fill. I can only say now, a lient 6t. 

Well, adieu, dear. Thanks for the talisman. I like it. 
I like to hâve a seal you hâve used. My love, do not 
laugh at my fancies. Ah? if you could see Bra's "Two 
Angels," and " Mary with the child Jésus." I hâve in my 



102 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

beart for you ail the adoration lie found in his sublime 
geuius to express angels. You are God to me, my dear 
idol. Adieu ! 

Paris, Suiiday, Deccmber 8. 

My dearest, no, not a Une for you in eight days ! But 
tears, effusions of the soûl sent with f ury across tiie hun- 
dred and fifty leagues that part us. 

If I get orï Thursday next, 12th, I shall regard myself 
as a giant. No, I wili not soil this paper full of love 
which you will liold, by pouring money troubles on it, 
however nobly conlided tbey be. The printers would 
not work ; I am their slave. The ealculations of the 
publisher, of the master-printers, and my own hâve been 
so cruelly frustrated by the workmen that my books an- 
nounced as published yesterday wiii not appear till 
Thursday next. I am in a state of curious destitution, 
without friends from whom I can ask an obole, yet I 
must borrow the money for my journey on Tuesday or 
Wednesday, but I do not know where. I will tell you ail 
about it. 

I hâve no time to write. I hâve been forty-eight hours 
this week without sleeping. Old Dubois told me yester- 
day I was marchiîig to old âge and death. But how ean 
I lielp it? I hâve considered nothing but my pleasure, 
our pleasure, and I hâve sacrificed ail — even 3^011 and 
myself — to that object. 

Alas, my dearest, I hâve not the time to finish this 
letter. The pnblisher of " Séraphita" is hère. He 
wants it by new year's day. Nevertheless, I shall be 
on Sunday near you. 

Adieu, my love; à bientôt, but that blenlôt will not be 
till Sunday, loth, for I hâve inquired, and the diligence 
starts only every other day, and takes three days and a 
half to get there. I hâve a world of things to tell you, 
but T can only send you my love, the sweetest and most 
violent of loves, the most constant, the most persistent, 



1833] Letters to Madame Hanska. 103 

across space. O my beloved angel, do you speak to 
me again of our promise? Say nothing more to me 
about it. It is saintly and sacred like our mutual life. 

Adieu, my angel. • I canuot say to you u Calm your- 
self ," — I, who am so uiibappy at tbese delays. You must 
surfer, for I surfer. 

Gène va, December 25th, 1833. 

I shall tell you ail in a moment, my beloved, my idola- 
try. I fell in getting into tbe carriage, and then my 
valet fell ill. But we will not talk of that. In an instant 
I sball tell you more in a look than in a tbousand pages. 
Do I love you ! Why, I am near you ! I would it had 
been a tbousand times more difficult and that I sbouid 
bave suffered more. But hère is one good montb, per- 
baps two, won. 

Not one, but millions of caresses. I am so happy I 
can write no more. À tantôt. 

Yes, my room is very good, and tbe ring is like you, 
my love, delieious and exquisite. 1 

1 At the end of this year, as this vitiated portion of the correspond- 
ence draws to a close, I shall venture to make a few commenta on it. 

Very early in life Balzac formée! for himself a theory of woman 
and of love. See Memoir, p. 261. When I wrote that Memoir I was 
not aware of the character of thèse letters. I now see from certain 
of them (those from the time he received Mme. Hauska's first letter 
till he met lier at Neufehâtel) that he kept that idéal before hiin up 
to his 34th year, making, apparently, various attempts to realize it, 
which failed (if we except one lifelong affection) until he met with 
Mme. Hanska. No one, T think, can reacl those letters, without recog- 
nizing that they are the expression of an idéal hope, in a soûl striving 
to escape from the awful (it was nothing less than awful) struggle be- 
tween its genius and its circumstances into the calmer heaven for 
which ail his life he had longed. They are imadnative, rash to folly, 
but they are in keeping with his nature, his headlong need of expan- 
sion, and the elsewhere recorded desires of his spirit. That mind 
must he a worldly one, I think, that cannot see the truth about this 
man, clinging, through the tnrmoîl of liis life and of bis nature, to his 
" star," and dving of exhaustion at the last. But what shall we think 
of the men who hâve not only shut their eyes to the purity of this 



104 Honore de Balzac. [1833 

story, tlïc strongest te.dimony to which is in tins ^ory volume, but 
bave nsed it to cast upon this mail and tJiis woman tiie glanionr of 
'* volnptnonsness " i 

Enong'h lias been told in tlie Préface to pro\c: (1) déception; (2) 
tlie forgery of one passade; (3) the falsilication oi' dates. Coupling 
those tacts with the lkerary iinpo^^i i^il it\ tliat Balzac ever wrote a por- 
tion of the letters just g'hen, we are jnstiiied in believing* tliat a certain 
Jiumber oi" the letters lhat hère iollow are toileries. 

1 class them a.sfollows: — 

Dnring Balzac's >îa\ in (ieneva (from Dec. 25 to Feb. 8) {dneîeen 
letters are e;iven ; ail da'ed indiscriminately " (ieneva, January, 1834." 
Flevon oi' tiie^e are l'riendly litcle notes, such as wonld natnrally pass 
between iïiends in dailr interconrse. The remaining eight contain 
matters so disloyal tliat 1 place in an Appendix a letrer i'roni Balzac to 
liis friend Madame Carraad, tcr'ttten al the bitjiw tinte, and leave the 
reader to form liis own jiid^mont. 

Kext i'ollow twelve letters (l'rom Feb. 15 to Mardi 11, 1834) which 
I characterize as ini'anious i'o récries. But their refniation is not far to 
seek ; it is lu i <\ in tiiis volume, — in letters lïom Balzac Huit bare bis 
soûl in the trafic simple of liis lii'e ; letters tliat show the deep re- 
spect of lin heart and of lus inind for the woman whom lie held to be 
liis star and the «mide of hib spirit. — 1ht. 



Î834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 105 



IL 
LETTERS DURING 1834. 

Gène va, Jauuary, 1834. 

Madame, — I do not know if I had the honour to tell 
you yesterday that I might, perhaps, not hâve the pleas- 
ure of dining with you to-day. I should be in despair 
if you could think L did not attach an extrême value to 
that favour by making you wait for me in vain. Your 
cousin lias engaged me for Thursday next; I hâve 
accepted so as not to seem absurd in m y seclusion. I 
hope you will see nothing u French" in tins sentiment. 

I hope this continuai rain Iras not made you sad, and I 
beg you to présent my most distinguished sentiments to 
M. ITanski, and accept my most affeetionate homage and 
obédience. 

De Balzac. 

Otkneva, .Tannary, 1834. 
Madame, — Hère is the first part of your cotlgnarian 
poems. But you will présent 1\ T see a m an in despair. I 
do not like to bring you the Chénier, and yet I hésita te 
to send it back. Of ail that I ordered, nothing lias been 
done. Binding execrably ugly, covering silly. One 
should be there one's self to hâve tîiings done. If } T ou 
accept it you must remember only the good intentions 
with which I took charge of your book; that is the only 
way to give it value. 



1C6 Honoré de Balzac. [\834- 

I hâve been into town ; I made myself joyous; 1 
tiiought I liad fourni something that would give y ou pleas- 
are. I hâve deranr/nl myself. If you permit it, I will 
compensîite my annoyance by coming lo see you earlier. 

A thousand graceful bornages. 

ITonokL 

I considérée! the cotif/nac so preeious I would not delay 
your gastronomie joys. 

Gène va, January, 1834. 

Madame, — ■ Will you exchange colonial products? 
Hère is a little of my cofïee. M y si s ter writes that I 
shall hâve more to-morrow; therefore, take tins. You 
shall hâve your eoffee-pot to-morrow. AVill you give 
me a Little tea for my breakfast? I want strietly a 
little. 

Hâve you passed a good night? Are you well? 
Hâve you had good dreams? I hope your health is 
good, so thatwe can go and take a walk [nous jtroineuer, 
b ramener], The treasury? . . . Fnrth ! 

To IIer Ma.testy IÎzkwuskienne, Mme. Hanska. 

Gène va, Jrumary, 18.34. 

Very dear sovereign, sacred Majesty, sublime queen 
of Paulowska and circumjaeent régions, autocrat of 
hearts, rose of Occident, star of the North, etc., etc., 
etc., fairy of tit/e'fî/les. 1 

Your Grâce wished for my coffee-pot, and I entreat 
your Serene Highness to do me the honour to accept one 
that is prettier and more complète; and then to tell me, 
to fling me from your eminent throne a word full of hap- 
piness, amber, and liowers, to let me know if I am to 
be at Your sublime door in an hour, with a carriage, to 
go to Coppet. 

1 Bromener ami tiijruilles (tilhuls limions), niake fan of lier pro 
nunriatioD. — Tu. 



1834] .Letters to Madame Hanska. 107 

I lay my homage at the feet of your Majesty, and 
entreat y ou to believe in the honesty of your humble 
moujik, Honoreski. 

Geneva, Januaiy, 1834. 

Never did an invalid less merit that name. He is 
ready to go to walk, to fetch his proofs, and when his 
business is finished, which will be in about a quarter 
of an hour, he will go and propose to Madame la doc- 
trice to profit by this beautiful day to take an air-bath 
on the Crêt of Geneva, along the iron railings; unless 
the laziness of the Hanski household concurs with that 
of the poor literary moujik who lays at your feet, 
madame, his strings of imaginary pearls, the treasure of 
his heroes, his fanciful Alhambra, where he has carved, 
everyvvhere, not the sacred name of God, but a human 
name that is sacred in othei ways. But ail this immense 
property may not be worth, in reality, the four games 
won yesterday. 

Geneva, January, 1834. 

I have slept like a dormouse, I feel like a charm, I 
love you like a madcap, I hope that you are well, and I 
send you a thousand tendernesses. 

Geneva, January, 1834. 

If I must corne this evening, and dress myself because 
you have your charaders, permit me to corne a little 
earlier. There is a dinner hère; they are singing and 
making such a noise while I write ihat it is enough to 
drive the devil away. Ecco. I can calculate. Wednes- 
day I shall be encandollé [dinner with M. de Candolle]. 
Thursday is taken. To-morrow I work without inter- 
mission, for I shall have proofs. So, out of five days, 
when one has but one in prospect, it is no flattery to add 
a few hours. Yes? Very good. 

Allow me to return your "Marquis" by a good 
" Maréchale." 



108 Honore de Balzac. [1834 

Gène va, January, 1834. 

Willingly, but you will bring me back to your house, 
will you not? — for I can't get accustomed to be two steps 
away from you, doing nothing, without better employing 
m y time. 

If you go into the town I will ask you to be so kind — 
No, I will go myself. 

Gexeva, January, 1834. 

Madame, — To a raan wdio considers happy moments as 
the most profitable moments of existence, it is permitted 
to wish not to lose any part of the sums he amasses. 
It is only in the matter of joy iliat I wish to be Grandet. 

If I take this morning the time that you would give 
me, from three to ten o'clock, would you refuse me? 
No ? Good. If you love me ? — yes — you will be visible 
at twelve or one o'clock. 

Forgive my avarice; I possess as } T et nothing but the 
happiness wliicli lieaven bestows. Of that I may be 
avarie ions, since I hâve nothing else. To you, a thou- 
sand affectionate respects, and m y obéi sauces to the 
honourable Maréchal of the Ukraine and noble circum- 
jacent régions. 

Gène va, January, 1834. 

I cannot corne because I am more umvell than I ex- 
pected to be, and going out might do me harrn. If you 
would hâve the kindness to send me back a little orgeat 
you would do me a real service, for I don't know what 
to drink, and I hâve a consuming thirst. 

I hâve spent my day very sadly, trying to work, and 
fmding myself incapable of it. So, I think I shall go 
to bed in a few hours. 

A thousand lhanks, and présent my respects to the 
Grand Maréchal. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 109 

Geneva, January, 1834. 

Madame, — If it were not that I get impatient and 
suffer at losing so much time, both for tbat whicli gives 
me pleasure and also for my work, I sbould be tins 
morning well, and like a man wbo bas bad a fever. I 
don't know wbetber I bad better go out or keep my room ; 
but I frankly own tbat bere, alone, I worry borribly. 

A tbousand tbanks for your good care, and forgive me 
that, yesterday, I was more surprised tban grateful at 
your visit, wbicb toucbed me deeply after you bad left. 
I don't know if you know tbat tbere are tbings tbat get 
stronger as tbey get older. 

A tbousand tbanks and grateful regards to M. Hanski. 
How stupid I am to bave made you an xi ou s for so sligbt 
a matter; but bow bappy I am to know tbat you bave 
as mucb frieudship for me as I for you. 

Geneva, January, 1834. 

My love, tbis morning I am perfectly well. I w T as 
embarrassed yesterday because tbere were for you, under 
tbe tbings you moved about, two letters I sencl witb tbis. 

Mon Dieu! my love, I am afraid tbat step of yours 
(your visit to my room) may be ill taken, and that you 
exposed the two letters. For otber reasons, Mon Dieu! 
certainly, I wanted to see you hère! I bave such need 
to cure my cold that if I go out it cannot be till this 
evening. 

I am up; I could not stay in bed longer, I am too 
uncomfortable. I must talk or hâve something to do. 
Inaction kills me. Yesterday, I spent a horrible even- 
ing tbinking of what I bad to do. I am tbis morning 
like a man who bas had a fever. 

A tbousand tender caresses. Mon Dieu! bow I suffer 
wben I don't see you. I hâve a tbousand tbings to tell 
you. 



110 Honoré de Balzac. [183-4 

Geneva, January, 1834. 
Wliat hâve I clone that last evening should end thus, 
my dear, beloved Eve? Do you forget that you are my 
last hope in life? 1 don't speak of love, or human sen- 
timents, you are more than ail that to me. Why do you 
tram pie under y oui* feet ail tlie hopes of oui* life in a 
word ? You doubt one who loves you freely with de- 
liglits; to whom to feel you is delirious happiness, who 
loves you in œtemum, and you do not doubt ... ! 

my love! you play very lightly with a life you 
chose to hâve, and which, moreover, has been given to 
you with an entire dévotion which I should hâve given 
you if you had not demanded it. I like better that you 
did wish for it. 

1 love you with too much consfancy that such disputes 
should not be mortal to me. Mon Dieu! I hâve told 
you the secrets of my life, and you ought, in return for 
such unlimited confidence, to spare him who lives in you 
the torture of such doubts. You hoid me by the hand, 
and the day you withdraw that adored hand you alone 
will know the reason of what becomes of me. 

M y beloved Eve, I commit extravagance on extrava- 
gance. It is impossible to think of anything but you. 
Jt is not a désire, though I bave fully the right to désire 
pleasure more keenly than other men, and this désire 
renders me stupeiied at times; no, it is a need to 
breathe your air, to see you, and yesterday you gave 
me eternal memories of beauty. 

.If I had no sacred pecuniary obligations (and I com- 
mit the folly of forgetting them sometimes), w T e would not 
think of the rue Cassini. No. Yesterday at Diodati 
I said to myself : "Why should I quit my Eve; why not 
follow her everywhere? " I wish it, myself. I accept 
ail sufferings wmen I see you; and you, you wounded me 
yesterday. 

But you do not love as I do; you do not know what 



1834] Letters to Madame Hamka. 111 

love is ; I, for my sorrow, hâve known its delights, and 
I see tbat from Neufchâtel to my death I can reach the 
end desired tbrough my wbole youtb, and concentrate my 
life and my affections on a single heart! 

Dearest, dearest, I am too unbappy from the tbings 
of life not to raake it a cruelty in ber I love and idolize 
to cause me a shadow of grief. I would like better tbe 
most horrible of agonies to causing you pain. 

Must I corne and seek a kiss? 

Gène va, January, 1834. 

Your doubts do me barm. You are more powerful 
tban ail. Angel of my life, why sbould I not folio w you 
everywbere? Because of poverty. Mon Dieu, you hâve 
notbing to fear. From tbe day on wbicb I told *you that 
I loved you, notbing bas altered this delicious life; it is 
my only life. Do not disbonour it by suspicions; do 
not trouble our pleasures. Tbere was no one before you 
in my heart; you will ïi 11 it forever. Wby do you arm 
yourself witb tbougbts of my former life? Do not 
punish me for my beautiful confidence. I wisb you to 
know ail my past, because ail my future is yours. Break 
your heart! Sacrifice you to anytbing whatever! Why, 
you don't know me! I am asbamed to bring you suffer- 
ings. I am asbamed not to be able to give you a life in 
barmony witb tbe life of tbe heart. I sufïer unheard-of 
woes, which you efface by your présence. 

Pardon, my love, for wbat you call my coquetries. 
Pardon a Parisian for a simple Parisian talk; but wbat 
you will sball be clone. I will go to see no one. Two 
visits of a quarter of an hour will end ail. Perish a 
thousand times tbe society of Geneva ratber than see you 
sad for a quarter of an hour' s conversation. It would 
be ridiculous (for otbers) that I sbould occupy myself 
witb you only. I was bound to respect you, and in 
orcler to talk to you so much it was necessary that I 



112 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

sbould talk witb Madame P. . . . Besides, what trilles! 
Before the Océan of \vbicb you talk, are you going to 
coucern yourself about a misérable spider? Mon Dieu! 
you don't kiiow v, bat it is to love i/ijinitelt/. 

AYbat I wrote you tbis moming is of a nature to sbow 
you bow l'aise are your fears. I never ceased to look at 
you wbile talking to Madame. P . . . 

Ali! dearest, my dear avïJV, my Eva, î would wlllingly 
sell m y talent foi' two tbousand ducats! 1 would follow 
you like a sbadow. Do youwisb to go baek to AVierz- 
cbownia? L w\\\ follow you and siay there ail my life. 
But we must bave pretexts, and, unfortunate tbat I am, 
1 cannot leave Paris witbout salbi'ying editors and 
ereditors. 

I bave received two letters; one from tbat good 
Borget, tbe otber from my sisier. '('roubles upon 
troubles. To bave at ail moments tbe sigbt of paradise 
and tbe sufferings of lied, — is tbat living? 

(Jlndva, Jaimary, 1834. 

]\Iy love, my oui v life, my oniy tbougbt, ob ! your 
letter! it is written fore ver on my beart. 

Listen, celés ti al angel, for you are not of tins 
eartb. 1 will replv to you on tbese tbings once for ail. 
Famé, vanity, self-love, literature, tbey are scarcely 
clouds upon oui* eky. You trample ail tbat twenty 
times a day beneatb your feet, wbicb I kiss twenty 
times. 

Ob, my angel, see me at your knccs as î tell you tbis: 
if I bave bad t lie most fugitive of réputations it bas 
corne -\vben I did not AAani it. ï wtis drunk for it till I 
was twenty-tvvo. I war.ted it as a pliaros to attract to 
me an angel. I bad notbing witb wbieb to please; I 
blamed myself. An angel came; I let myself suffer in 
lier bosom, biding from lier my desires for a young and 
beautiful woman. Sbe saw tliose désires and said to me: 



1834] Letter s to Madame Hanska. 113 

"When she cornes I will be your mother, I will bave the 
love of a mother, tbe dévotion of a mother. " l 

Then otie day tbe misery of my life grew greater. 
Tbe toils of night and day began. She wbo had offered 
me, on ber knees, ber fortune, wbicb I had taken, wbicb 
I was returning at tbe péril of my life, she watched, she 
corrected, she refined, as I relined, corrected, watcbed. 
Then ail my désires were extinguished in work. It was 
no longer a question of famé, but of money. 1 oived, 
and I had notbing. 

Three years I worked without relaxation, having 
drawn a brass cirele around me from 1828 to 1831. I 
abhor Madame de C[astries], for she broke tbat life with- 
out giving me another, — I do not say a comparable one, 
but without giving me what she promised. There is 
not tbe shadow of wounded vanity, oh! but disgust and 
contempt. 

You alone bave made me know tbe vanities of famé. 
When I saw you at Neufcbâtel I wanted to be some- 
thing. In you then begins, more splendid tban I 
dreamed it, tbat dreamed life. 

Oh! my Eve, you alone in my life to corne! — Alas! 
like Louis Lambert I wisb tbat I could give you my 
pas t. Thus, notbing tbat is success, famé, Parisian 
distractions, moves me. There is but one power that 
makes me accept my présent life: Toil. It calms tbe 
exactions of my fiery tempérament. It is because I fear 
myself that I am chaste. 

As for this seclusion tbat you want, bey! I want it as 
mucb as you. It is not being a fop to tell you tbat 
since Neufcbâtel three ravisbing women hâve corne to 
tbe rue Cassini, and tbat I did not even cast a man's 
glance on seeing them. 

1 Madame de Berny is meant, and the invention of this letter is 
infamous. See letter to Madame Oarraud in Appendix, written at the 
same time as this spurious letter. — Ta, 



114 Honoré de Balzac. 



1834 



My Eve, I love y ou bel ter tban y ou love me, for I ain 
alone in the secret of wbat I lose, and you know notbing 
of love but the sentiments of love. Besides, 1 love you 
better, for I bave more reasons to love you. If 1 werc 
free J woukl live near you, bappy to be tbe steward of 
your fortune and tbe artisan of y oui- wealtb, as Madame 
Carraud's brotber is for Madame d'Argout. I bave a 
security of love, a plénitude of dévotion, wbicb you wiil 
only know witb lime. It needs tinie to fatbom tbe 
iniinite. To suîïer tbe wbole of life witb you, taking a 
few rare moments of bappiness, yes! To bave a life- 
time in two years, tbree, four, iive, six, seven, eigbt, 
nine, ten years, and die, yes! Never to S|)eak to a 
woman, to refuse myself to ail, to live in you, ob, angel! 
but tbat is my tbougbt at ail bours. Tbe . . . wbicb 
J told you about Madame P . . . was because sbe bad 
vexed you, and before your suiïei'ing 1 became besotted, 
as you before mine. 

Mon Dieu! if we lived togetber, if I bad twenty ducats 
a mont h, to you sbould belong my poems. J would write 
books, and rend tbetn to you, and we would burn tbem in 
onr lire. My adored minette, I weep sometimes in tbink- 
ing tbat I sell my ideas, tbat people read me! Ali! you 
do not know wbat I could be if, Îyqq for one evening, I 
could speak to you, see you, caress you by my tbougbts 
and by myself. Ob! you would then know tbat your 
tbougbts of purity, of exclusive tenderness are mine. 
Angel of my life, 1 live in you, for you, by you. Only, 
if I a m mistaken, tell me so witbout anger. Tbere is 
never any false or bad intention in me. I obey my beart 
in ail tbat is sentiment. I bave never known wbat a 
calculation is. If I mistake, it is in good faitb. 

My love, let us never separate. In six montbs I sba ] l 
be free. Well, then, no power on eartb can disunite us. 
La dileeta w r as forty-six wben I was twenty-two. AVby 
taîk about your forty years? We bave tbirty years 



1804] Letters to Madame Hanska. 115 

before us. Do you think that at sixty-four a man betrays 
tbirty years' affection? 

What! you think that the opéra, the salons, famé can 
distract me from you? Then you don't know how I 
love you. I shall be more angry at that than you at 
Madame P . . . No, believe me, I love you as a woman 
loves and as a man loves. In my Jil'e to corne therc is 
nothing but you and work. My dear gif t, my dear star, 
my svveet spirit, let yourself be caressed by hope, and 
say to yourself that I am not amorous or passionate; ail 
that passes. I love you, I adore you in œtermim. I 
believe in you as 1 do in myself . Mon Dieu ! I would 
like to know words wbich could infuse into you my soûl 
and my thought, which could tell you that you are in 
my heart, in my blood, in my brain, in my thought, — in 
short, the life of my life; that each beating of my heart 
gives birth to a désire full of thee. Oh! you do not 
know what are three years of chastity, which spring.at 
every moment to the heart and make it bound, to the 
head and make it palpitate. If I w r ere not sober and 
did not work, this purity would drive me mad. 1 alone 
am in the secret of the terrible émotions which the 
émanations from your dear person give me. It is an 
unspeakable delirium which, by turns, freezes my nature 
by the omnipotence of désire, and makes me burn. I 
resist follies like those of the young seigneur eut down 
by the Elector. 

We hâve, both of us, our sufferings; do not let us dis- 
pute that. Let us love each other, and do not refuse me 
that which makes ail accepled. In other respects, in ail 
things, angel, I am submissive to you as to God. Take 
my life, ask me to die, order me ail things, except not to 
love you, not to désire you, not to possess you. Outside 
of that ail is possible to me in your name. 



116 Honoré de Balzac. [1S34 

Gène va, Janimry, 1834. 

If you only knew tbe superstitions you give me ! Wlien 
I work I put the talisman on my finger; I put it on tbe 
flrst iinger of the left liand, witb wbicb I bolcl my paper, 
so tbat your tbougbt clasps me. You are tbere, witb me. 
Novv, in seeking froin tbe air for words and ideas, I ask 
tbem of tbat delieious ring; in it I bave fouud tbe wbole 
of u Seraphita." 

Love celestial, wliat tbings I bave to say to you, for 
wbicb one needs tbe sacred Jiours during wbicb tbe beart 
feels tbe need of baring itself. Tbe adorable pleasures 
of love are tbe oniy means of arriving at tbat union, tbat 
fusion of soûls. Dear, witb wbat joy I see tbe fortunes 
of my beart and tbe fate of my soûl seeured to me. Yes, 
I will love you alone and soleiy tbrougb my life. You 
bave ail tbat pleases me. You exbale, for me, tbe most 
intoxieating perfume a woman can bave; tbat alone is a 
treasure of love. 

I love you witb a fanatieism tbat does not exclude tbe 
quiétude of a love witbout possible storms. Yes, say to 
yourself well tbat 1 breatbe by tbe air you breatbe, tbat 
I can never bave any otber tbougbt tban you. You 
are toc end of ail for me. You sbali be tbe young 
dllecta — already I call you tbe pre dllecta. 

Do not murmur at tbis alliance of tbe two sentiments. 
I sbould like to tbink I loved you in ber, and tbat tbe 
noble qualifies wbicb toucbed me and made me better 
t lui n I was were ail in you. 

I love you, my angel of eartb, as tbey loved in tbe 
middle âges, witb tbe most complète (idelity, and my 
love will a'.ways be grand, witbout stain; I a m proud of 
my love, it is tbe principle of a new life. Ilence, tbe 
new courage tbat I feel under my last adversities. I 
would ])e LM-eatcr, be sometbing glorious, so tbat tbe 
crown to place upon your bead sbould be tbe most leafy, 
tbe most Uowery of ail tbosetbat greatmen bave nobly won! 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 117 

Never, therefore, hâve fear or clistrust; there are no 
abysses in heaven! A tbousand kisses full of caresses; 
a tbousand caresses full of kisses! Mon Dieu! shall 1 
never be abie to make you see how 1 love you, you, my 
Eve! 

A bientôt ; a tbousand kisses will be in my first look. 

Gène va, January, 1834. 
My loved love, witb a single caress you bave returned 
nie to lil'e. Ob! my dearest, 1 bave not been able* to 
eitber sleep or work. Lost in tbe remembrance of tbat 
evening, I bave said to you a vvoiid of tendernesses. Ob! 
you bave tbat divine soûl to wbicb one remains attachée! 
during a lifetime. My soûl, you hâve, tbrougb love, the 
delicious language of love wbicb makes ail griefs and 
annoyances fly away on wings. Loved angel, do not 
obscure witb any doubt the inspirations of love of wbicb 
your dear caress is but tbe interpréter. Do not tbink 
you can ever enter info comparison with any one, no 
matter who. But, my loved daiiing, my fiower of 
heaven, do you not understand, you, ail eharm and ail 
truth, that a poor poet can be struck at finding the same 
heart, at being loved beyond bis bopes? My adored 
wife, yes, it was for you that the heart of the most déli- 
cate and sweetest woman that ever was brought me up. 
I shall be permitted to say to her: "You wished to be 
twenty years old to love me better and give me even the 
pleasures of vanity. Well, I bave met witb what you 
w T ished me." She will be joyons for vs. Dear eternal 
idol, my beautiful and holy religion, I know how the 
memories of another love must wound a proud and déli- 
cate love. But not to speak of it to you would be to 
deprive you of nameless fêtes of the soûl, and joys of 
love. There are such identities of tenderness and soûl 
that I am proud for you, and I know not if it is you I 
loved in her. Tben, an ungovernable jealousy has so 



118 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

habituated me to tbink witb open heart, and say ail to 
lier in wbom I lire, tbat 1 could never bide from you a 
tbougbt. No, you are my own bearl. 

Yes, to you ail is pcrmitted. I sball tell you naïvely 
ail tbat I tbink tbat îs fine, and ail tbat 1 tbink tbat is 
bad. You are an I, bandsomer, prettier. 

My love bas neitlter exaltation, nor more, nor less, nor 
anytbing tbat is terrestrial. ()b! my dear Eve, it is tbe 
love of tbe angel always at tbe same degrce of force, of 
exaltation. To feel, to toueb your band of love, tbat 
band of soft, jrroud sentiments, — do you understand 
me, my angel, tender, kind, passionate, — tbat band, 
polisbed and relaxed of love, tbat is a bappiness as 
great as your caress of boney and of lire. 

Tbis is wbat I wisbed to say to my timid angel, wbo 
tbougbt tbat ail caresses were not solidaire. One, tbe 
ligbtest as tbe most passionate, comprises ail. In tbat 
you see to tbe bottom of my soûl. A kiss on your cber- 
islied lips, — tbose virgin lips tbat bave no souvenirs 
y et (whicb makes you in my eyes as pure as tbe purest 
young girl), — a kiss will be a talisman for tbe desires of 
love, wben it contains ail tbe caresses of love. Dur 
poor kiss, still disinberited of ail our joys, only goes to 
your beart, and I would tbat it enwrapped ail your person. 
You would see tbat possession augments, enlarges love. 
You would know your Honoré, your busband; and you 
would know tbat be loves you more daily. 

My dearest Eva, never doubt me, but doubt yourself 
less. I bave told you tbat tbere is in you, in your letters, 
in your love, in. its expression, a sometbing I know not 
what tbat is more tban in otber letters and expressions 
tbat I tbougbt inimitable. But you are twenty-eigbt 
years old, — tbat is tbe grand secret. But. dear treas- 
ure, you bave the most celestial soûl tbat 1 know, 
and you bave intoxicating beauties. Mon Dieu! bow 
sball I tell you tbat I am drunk at tbe faintest scent 



1834] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 119 

of you, and that had I possessed you a thousand 
times you would see me more intoxicated still, be- 
cause there would be hope and memory where now there 
is only hope. 

Do you remember the bird that bas but one flower? 
That is the history of my heart and my love. Oh! dear 
celestial flower, dear embalming perf urnes, dear fresh 
colours, my beautiful stalk, do not bend, guard me 
always. At each advance of a love which goes and ever 
will go on increasing, I feel in my heart foyers of ten- 
derness and adoration. Oh! I want to be sure of you as 
I am of myself. I feel at each respiration that 1 hâve 
in my heart a constancy that nothing can alter. 

I wept on the road to Diodati, when, after haviug 
promised me ail the caresses that you hâve granted me, 
a woman was able, with a single word, to eut the woof 
she seemed to hâve taken such pleasure in weaving. 
Judge if I adore you, you who perceive nothing of thèse 
odious manœuvres, who deliver yourself up with can- 
dour and happiness to love, and who speaks thus to ail 
my natures. 

There is my confession made. I think that you hâve 
ail the noblenesses of the heart, for, adored angel, one 
should respect the weakness and even the crimes of a 
woman, and if I hide nothing from your heart, it is that 
it ought always to be mine, So I send you my sister's 
chatter and the letter of Madame de C[astries] on con- 
dition that you burn ail, my angel. I know you so true, 
so great; ah! I would not hesitate to read you the letter 
of the dileeta if you wish it, for you are really myself. 
I would not hide from you the shadow of a thought, and 
you ought, at ail hours, to enter my heart, as into the 
palace you hâve chosen to spread your treasures in, to 
adorn it, and iind pleasure in it. Ail should there be 
yours. 

If Madame C . . /s letter displeases you, say so 



120 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

frankly, my love. I will write to lier that my affections 
are placée! in a heart too jealous for me to be permitted 
to correspond with a woman who bas lier réputation for 
beauty, for charm, and that I acl frankly in telling lier 
so. I wish to write this letter froin myself. I would 
like well that you should tell it to me. 

As for my money troubles, do not be uneasy a bout 
them. It is tbe basis of my life, tili îbe end of July, 
love, which makes everything easy to me to hear. 

Pardon me for baving made known to you yesterday's 
trouble. Oh. dear, ahvays beautiful flower, I am 
asbamed to bave mado you know tbe extent of your 
mission, but you are an inexhaustible treasnry of affec- 
tion, of love, of tenderness, and J sball ahvays fmd in 
you more consolations than I bave trou! îles. You bave 
put into my thougbts and ail my hours a ligbt, a gleam, 
which makes me endure ail. 

1 wake up happy to love you; I go to bed happy to be 
loved. It is tbe life of angels; and my despair cornes 
from feeling in it tbe diseord which my want of fortune 
and of liberty puts between tbe desires of my heart, tbe 
impulses of my nature, and tbe works which keep me in 
an ignoble cabin like tbe moujiks of Paulowska. If I 
were only at Paulowska! I would that you were I for 
a moment to know how you are loved. TJieu I would be 
sure that seeing so much love, so much dévotion, such 
great security of sentiment, you would never bave a 
doubt, and you would love ui wternum a heart that loves 
you tbus. 

A thousand kisses, and may each bave in itself a 
thousand caresses to you like that of yesterclay to me. 

Gène va, Jîinuary, 1834. 
Dear sonl of my soûl, I entreat you, attach yourself 
soïely — your cares, your thougbts, your memory — to 
what will be in my life a constant thougbt. Let tbe 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 121 

pièce of malachite become by you alone an inkstand. 
I will explain the sbape. Il should be eut six-sided; 
the sides should be about the dimensions of the sides 
of yoar card-basket, except that they ought to end, at 
the top, squarely, as at the base; they should go up, 
enlarging from the base to the top, and, to décide, logi- 
cally, the conditions of the stand, the pot for the ink 
(hollowed out in the malachite) must hâve at its surface 
a diameter equal to this line [drawn]. The cover, 
shaped like a marchepain, must be round, and sunk in 
the pot; it should be simple, and end in a silver-gilt 
knob. Let the stand hâve a handle, fastened on by 
simple buttons, and this handle, of bronzeel silver-gilt, 
should be like that of your card-basket. Ilave engraved 
upon it our motto: Adoremus in œtemum, between the 
date of your first letter and that of Nenfehâtel. 

The inkstand should be mounted on a pedestal, also of 
six sides, suitably projecting; and on each side, at the 
j miction of the pedestal and the stand, there should be, 
in art-term, a. moulding of silver-gilt, which is simply a 
round cordon, which must harmonize with the propor- 
tions of the inkstand. Then I think that at the top of 
the sides this moulding should be repeated. In the 
middle of each side of the pedestal put a star; then, in 
small letters, in the middle of each large side, thèse 
words: Exaudit, — Vox, — Angeli, separated by stars 
(which makes "Eva"). 

If you want to be magnificent you will add a paper- 
knife of a single pièce of malachite and a powder-pot, 
the shape of which I will explain to you. 

Not to displease that person I will give him Décamp's 
drawing which you can get back, and I will ask him*, in 
exchange, for a pièce of malachite for my alarm-clock. 

Hère is Susette. I can only say that this will make 
me renounce the pleasure of making you pick up on 
the shores of the lake the pebbles I intended to hâve 



Và2 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

made into an alarm-clock. I went, yesterday, to see 
if we could waik along tiic shore. I wanted to connect 
y ou with thèse souvenirs, to inuke yoti see that one eau 
thus enlarge life and the world, and hâve the right to 
surround you with m y thought through a thousand 
things, as I would like to surround myseK with youis. 
Thus sentiment nioulds material objects and gives them 
a soûl and a voiee. 

What ! bébêtv, did you not guess that the dedication 
was a surprise which I wished to give you? You are, 
for longer titan you think, the thought of m y thought. 

Yes, ï shali try to corne to-night at uiiie. 

G exe va, Jîinuary 19, 1834. 

My loved angel, I arn almost mad for you, as one is 
mad. I cannot put two ideas together that you do not 
corne betwecn them. I can think of nothing but you. 
Jn spite of myself my imagination brings me back to 
you. I hold you, I press you, I kiss you, I caress you; 
and a thousand caresses, the most amorous, lay hold 
upon me, 

As to my heart, you will always be there, irlllbxjltj ; 
I feel you there deliciously. But, ta on Dieu ! what will 
become of me if you hâve taken away my mind. Oh î 
it is a monomania that frightens me. I rise every 
moment, saying to myself, u Corne, 1 '11 go there! " Then 
I sit down again, recalled by a sensé of my obligations. 
It is a dreadful struggie. It is not life. I hâve never 
heen like tins. You hâve consumed the whole of me, 
I feel stupelied and happy wlien I let myse'f go to think- 
ing of you. I roll in a delicious revery, where I live a 
thousand y car s in a moment. 

What a horrible situation. Crowncd with love, feeling 
love in ail my pores, living only for love, and to (i:id 
oneself consumed by grief and caught in a Lhousand 
spider's-webs. 



1834] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 123 

Oh ! m y dearest Eva, you don't know. I bave picked 
up your card ; it is there, before me, and 1 speak to it 
as if you were there. I s-aw you yesterday, beautiful, so 
admirably beautiful. Yesterday, ail the evening, I said 
to myself, u She is mine!" Oh ! the angels are not as 
happy in Paradise as I was yesterday. 

G en eva, February, 1834. 

Madame, — Bautte [chief clock-maker in Geneva] is 
a great seigneur who is bored by small matters; and as 
you deign to attach some importance to the chain of 
your slave, I send you the worthy Liodet, who will 
understand better what is wanted, and will put more 
good-will into doing it. I hâve told him to put a link 
to join the two little chain s. 

Accept a thousand compliments, and the respectful 
homage of your moujik, 

Honoré. 

Geneva, February, 1834. 
The Sire de Balzac is very well indeed, madame, and 
will be, in a few moments, at your fïreside for a chat; he 
is too avaricious of the few moments that remain to him 
to spend in Geneva, and if he had not had some letters 
to answer, he would hâve gone there already this morn- 
ing. A thousand aiïectionate compliments to M. Hanski, 
and to you a thousand homages full of friendship. 

Paris, Wednesday, February 12, 1834. 
I prefer saying nothing more than that. I love you 
with increasing intoxication, w T ith a dévotion that diffi- 
culties increase, to telling you imperfectly my history 
for the last three days. Sunday I will post a complète 
journal. I hâve not a minute to myself. Everything 
hurries me at once, and time presses. But,, adored 
angel, you will divine me. 



121 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

The dllectd [Madame de Berny] is better, but tbe future 
seems bad to me. I wait still before despairing. 

Mon Dieu! may my thoughts of love écho in your eare 
and cradle you. 

Paijis, Tbursday, Febmary 13, 1834. 

Madame, — J amved mueh fatigued, but 1 found 
troubles at home, of whieh you can conceive tbe keen- 
ness. Madame de Berny is ill, and seriously i 11, — more 
ili than she îs aware of. I see in lier face a fatal 
change. I bide my anxiety from lier ; it is boundless. 
U nt il my own doctor or a somnambulist reassure me, ] 
shall not feel easy about tbat life which you kiiow to be 
so precious. 

1 bave delayed a day in writing to you, because on 
Wednesday moniing I had to rush to tbe rue d'Enfer, 
and wlien I could write to you there was no longer time; 
tbe public oilices elosed earlier on account of Ash- 
Wednesday. 

The sigbt of tbat face so gracions, aged in a month 
by twenty years, and horribly contracted, lias greatly 
increased tbe grief I felt. Even if tbe heaSth is re- 
stored, and I hope it, it will be always painful to me to 
see tbe sad change to old âge. I can say this only to 
you. It seems as if nature had avenged berself sud- 
denly, in a moment, for tbe long protestation made 
against lier and time. 1 hope most ardently tbat tbe 
life may be saved; but I recognized symptoms tbat I 
saw with horror iu my father before tbe irréparable 
loss. 8o, I hâve sorrow upon sorrow. 1 Now, after 

1 Madame de Rerny was tho friend of his parents, and twenty-four 
years older than himself. Wlien tlie family lived at Villeparisis the 
de Bornys lived near tliem in a hired bouse, their own estate being at 
Saint-Firniin. Madame de Berny recognized .Balzac \s genius in his 
early youth, wlien parents and fricinls denied it. For a time, A\hile 
at Villeparisis, be tnugbt lier son with bis own brotber Henry. Wlien 
Balzac's fatber opposed his literary career, it was she who, witb 



1834J Letters to Madame ITansJca., 125 

confiding to you thèse distresses, I can, madame, give 
you some consoling news. The publisher has under- 
stood my delay, and is not angry with me. I hâve, 
certainly, to work enormously, but, at least, I shall not 
hâve the annoyance of being blamed. As for M. Gos- 
selin, that is only a loss of money. So, you who felt 
such affectionate fears lest the prolongation of my stay 
would prove a burden may be reassured. I shall hâve 
had complète joy, and no remorse; and now that there 
is no remorse, I should like a little. It is so sweet to 
bear something for those whose friendship is precious to 
us. I can tell you from afar, with less trembling in my 
voice and redness in my eyes, that the forty-four days 
I spent in Geneva hâve been one of the sweetest halts 

Mme. Surville and lier husband, induced the old man to advance him 
part of his inheritance for the printing-office, and later another por- 
tion to avoid bankruptcy. When the crisis came, in 1828, and his 
father would do no more for him, Madame de Berny lent him money 
from tiine to time to meet his load of business debts. The total 
arnoimt lent by lier, at five per cent interest, was 45,000 francs, the 
last 6,000 of which he paid in full in 1836. Madame de Berny had 
cruel trials of her own. Two of her childreu were insane, one idolized 
son and two daughters died before her in the prime of their youth. 
The ilhiess hère mentioned was one form of heart disease, from which 
she rallied for a time, but died in July, 1836, in the sixty-first year of 
lier âge. Of Balzac's grief at this event his sister says : " My brother 
was then (1836) overwhelmed by a great heart-sorrow . . . the death 
of a person very dear to him. ... I hâve never read anything so élo- 
quent as his expression of that grief/' 

Writing, himself, to a friend at that time, he says : " She w f hom I 
hâve lost was more thau a mother, more than a friend, more than any 
créature can be to another créature. I can explain her only by 
divinity. She sustained me during great storms by words, by actions, 
by dévotion. If I live, it was through her. She was ail to me ; and 
though for the last two years illness and lapse of time had separated 
us, yet we were visible to each other from a distance. She re-acted 
upon me. She was, as it were, my moral sun. Madame de Mortsauf 
in the Lys is a pale expression of her noble qualities; it is but a dis- 
tant reflection of her, for I hâve a horror of prostituting my owu 
émotions." — Tu. 



126 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

that I bave made in my life of a literary foot-soldier. 
That rest was neeessary for me, and you bave made it 
înto a joy. It was a sleep with tbe sweetest drcams, — 
dreams wbicb will be realities. True friendsbip, sweet, 
kind, noble and good sentiments are so rare in life that 
tiiere must mingie a little gratitude in tbe return \ve 
owe, and I feel as much gratitude as friendsbip. 

I sball forget notbing of our afïectionate little agree- 
ments: neitber tbe album, nor tbe coffee, nor anytbing. 
To-day I can only tell you that I arrived without any 
hindrance, except great fatigue. The cold was keen. 
Saturday morning I erossed tbe Jura on foot througb tbe 
snow, and on reacbing tbe stone where two years ago I 
sat clown to look at tbe wonderful spectacle of France 
and Switzerland separated by a brook, wbicb is tbe Lake 
of Geneva, and a ditcb, wbicb is tbe vallcy between the 
Mont Blanc and tbe Jura, I h ad a moment of joy mingled 
with sadness. Two years ago I wept over lost illusions 
[refers to bis rupture with Mme. de Castries], and to-day 
I had to regret the sweetest tiiings that bave ever corne 
to me, outside of family feelings, — hours of friendsbip, 
the value of wbicb a poor writer from necessity must 
feel more keenly tban others, because tbere is in him a 
great poet for ail that is émotion of the heart. 

Yes, I ara proud of m y personal feelings, but it is a 
great grief to know tbe joys of friendsbip to tbeir fall 
extent, and lose tbem, even momentarily. 

To-day I replunge into work, and it is crushing. I 
bave promised that the second Fait of tbe " Études de 
Mœurs" sball appear February 25th. That is only ten 
days for completing you know how much. My punctu- 
ality must excuse the delays. You see that in writing 
I am as indiscreet as when I went to see y on. 

TVell, adieu, madame; believe that I am not "French" 
in tbe matter of memory, and that I know ail that I 
leave of good and true bevond the Jura. In tbe bonis 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 127 

when I am worn-out I shall think of our evenings; and 
the word patience, written in the depths of my life, will 
make me think of our games. You know ail that I 
would say to the Grand Maréchal of the Ukraine, and I 
am certain that my words will be more graceful from 
your lips than from my pen. Tell Anna that lier horse 
sends her his remembranees and kisses her forehead. 
A thousand affectionate compliments to Mademoiselle 
Séverine; inform Mademoiselle Borel that I hâve not 
broken my neck, and keep, I entreat you, madame, at 
your feet, my most sincère and most affectionate homage; 
your noble beauty assures you of sincerity, and as to 
the affection, I wish I could prove it to you in some 
way tbat would not involve misfortune. 

" Do not forget to-morrow" was one of your recom- 
mendations when I told you that I clid not believe in 
morrows; but now I do believe in them, for, by chance, 
I hâve a future, and my publisher lias proved it to me. 
He is jubilant at the sale of "Eugénie Grandet," and 
said to me solemnly, "It sells like bread." I tell this 
to you who think you see cakes in it, while most people 
expect to see me faire brioches of it [fiasco]. Excuse 
this studio jest, you who like artists. 

Dévotion and friendship. 

Paris, February 15, 1834, eleven o'clock. 

My darling Eva, to you belongs this part of my night. 
Since Wednesday morning of this w r eek I hâve been like 
a balloon; but as I went and came, and bustled through 
this Paris, I walked along, exciting myself with one iixed 
idea, — the idea of being forever near to you. 

My dear idol, I hâve never had so much courage in 
my life; or rather, I hâve a new life. I read your name 
in me, I see you; everythiug seems easy to me to attain 
to seeing you again. I am afraid of nothing. My 
tears, my regrets, my sadness of love, — ail that falls 



128 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

upon m y heart at llie moment when I get into bed. 
Then, alone with myself, I am ail grief not to be at the 
u Arc," not to bave seen my darling, and I go over in 
memory tbe smallest détails of tbose days when, for ail 
grief, J bad tbat of being vvaked tbree hours too soon, 
bours tbat separated my rising froin tbe moment wben I 
set out to go to y on. 

Tbe next day I work with an ardour of enthusiasm. 
Wbat sball I tell yon of thèse four day s ? I bad to see two 
editors (tbey came) and tbe printer, to finish my proofs, 
to nurse Mme. de Berny, who is better, — but wbat a 
ebange! sbe is still a little feeble, incapable of correcting 
my proofs. Everytbing will surfer for tbat, but wbat 
does it matter? I want to see tbat life out of danger. 

I felt tbere how I loved you. A borrible sensation 
told me tbat I could not bear any danger to you. Ail 
tbat recalled my terror at tbe tinie of your nervous 
attack. Oh, mon Dieu! to see you seriously il), you, 
wbo su m up and bold ail my affections in your beart, my 
life in your life, — why ! I sbould die, not of your deatb, 
but of your sufferings. No, you do not know what you 
are to me. Near you, I feel too mucb to tell you egotis- 
tical tbougbts; bere I taik to you ail day long. You are 
woven into my tbougbt. 1 iliid no word but tbat to 
express ni} 7 situation. As soon as I found myself in 
Paris I tbougbt of tbe means of going to see you for a 
single day in (ieneva. 

Hère I fiud violent family troubles. To-day I bave 
bad my brotber-in-law and my motber to dinner. Tbat 
tells you tbat from fîve o'clock to balf-past ten I bave 
been given up to tbem. Yesterday I bad to dine with 
my sister, my motber, and m} T brotber-in-law ; then 1 
was forced to give tbem from four to eleven o'clock. 
Tbose poor heads are distracted. I must bave courage, 
ideas, energy, economy for ail of tbem. 

Tbe morning of tbis Friday L set myself to learn ail 



18341 Letters to Madame HansJca. 129 

that lias happened hère. I h ad to go out early, to see 
the doc toi*, negotiate a payment for to-day, 15th, and 
consult him. 80 y ou see the employment of to-day and 
yesterday. Thursday was taken up by the publishers, a 
little sleep and a bath, also by Madame de Berny, to 
whom I wished at any rate to read " Ne touchez pas à la 
hache." Wednesday, the day after my arrivai, I wrote 
y ou in the evening, I ran a bout ail the morning, set my 
affairs in order, attended to a thousand little things, — 
which I don't particularize, as they are ail mère necessary 
nothings, — made up my accounts, wrote, etc. After this 
avalanche of small things hère I am, not much rested, 
rather less anxious about the dilecta, before a pile of* 
proofs and enormous debts for the end of the mon th. 
Madame D . . . has urgent need of half her money by 
the end of February. It is now the 15th, the month is a 
short one, I must finish my two volumes ; I must finish 
u Ne touchez pas" and write " La Femme aux yeux 
rouges." 

My adored, my darling minette, I tell you things that 
are terrifying, but do not be alarmed. Vienna is traced 
out before me; ail will be well. Your désire to see me, 
your love, ail you hovers above me. I believe in you 
only ; I want new successes, new famé, new courage ; I 
will in short, that you shall be a thousand times prouder 
of your husband of love than of your lover. Yes, dear 
celestial Eva, I am melancholy because I am hère and 
you are down there, but I hâve no more discouragements, 
no more dépressions. When I raise my eyes I see some- 
thing better than God, I see a sure happiness, a tried 
happiness. Oh ! you do not know, my treasure, my dear 
life, what such sweet certainty is to my soûl. You don't 
know what you did with your infernal jesting, you remem- 
ber ? You tried upon a most loving heart a weapon you 
did not know was loaded. A moment more, and I was 
lost. My eternal love could be placed on you alone ; 



130 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

I see it, I know it now, for now I désire y ou more 
tlian ever. My dearcst soûl, I bave for myseif ail the 
efforts that I make to meet you again ; I materialize my 
hope. But, my beautiful myseif, you, what are you 
doing? Ah! my beautiful, saiutly créature, I know it is 
not ou him of Paris that the burden is heaviest; it is oui* 
Geneva love, it is you who, bearing ail our happiuess, 
feel most our pains, our sorrows. Neither do I ever look 
at us ttco without a smile full of hope, but aiso slightly 
tainted with sadness. Oh ! my idolized angel, you in 
whom ail my future résides, ail my happiuess, and for 
whom I désire ail the fine glories that make a happy 
woman, you whom I love with ail the ardour of a young 
sentiment, of a flrst and a last love in one, yes, know it 
well, no sufferings, ideas, joys, which can agitate youi 
soûl fail to corne and agitate mine. 1 

At this moment when I write to you, having left ail to 
plunge into your heart, to corne nearer to you, no, I feel 
space no longer ; we are near one to the other ; I see you, 
and one of my sensés is intoxicated by the memory of 
one of those little voluptuous moments which made me so 
happy ! I am very proud of you. I cry ont to myseif 
that I love you ! You see, a poet's love lias a little 
madness in it. None but artists are worthy of women, 
because they are somewhat women too. Oh ! what need I 
hâve always to hear myseif toîd that I am loved, to hear 
you repeat it! You, you are ail. You will know only 
when you hear my voice how ardently J tell you that you 
are the only well-beloved, the only wife. Now I shall 
rush there more amorously th. an the two preeeding 
times. You know why, my dear, naïve wife? Because 1 
know you better, because I know ail there is of divine 

1 This ridiculous stnff is carefully translated word for word. 
Tlie readcr must make what ho can of it Tt i.s Indicrons to suppose 
that Balzac ever wrote those vapourings of a shop-hoy to his fernale 
kind. — Th. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 131 

and girlish in your dear, celestial charaeter, because — 
No, I never dreamed so ambitiously the perfections that 
are agreeable to me because I know that I can love ever. 
Going to Neufchâtel I ivanted to love y ou ; returning 
from Geneva it is impossible not to love y ou ! 

Who vvill ever know what the road to Ferney is at the 
spot where, having to leave on the morrow, I stood still 
at the sight of your dear, saddened face. Mon Dieu ! if I 
tried to tell you ail the thoughts there are in my soûl, the 
voluptuous pleasures which my heart contains and desires, 
J should never cease writing, and, unfortunately, the 
word " Vienna" is there. 1 am cruel to both of us in the 
name of a continued happiness ; yes, one year passed 
together will prove to you that you can be better loved 
each day, and I aspire to September . . . 

My dearest, I hâve many griefs; this flaming happi- 
ness is surrounded by briars, thorns, stones. I cannot 
speak to you of family troubles ; they are endless. You 
will know thein from one word, you who feel through a 
sister what, in another order of things, I feel through my 
mother. My mother has committed, with good inten- 
tions, follies that bring a person into disrepute. Hère 
am I, I, so busy, forced to undertake the éducation of 
my mother, hold lier in check, make a child of her. 1 
Dear angel, what a sad thing to think that if the world 
has accumulated obstacles in my life, my family hâve 
done worse in being of no use to me, and secretly ham- 
pering me. One day or other the world counts us as a 

1 His whole correspondence, and ail that we knoïv and can gather 
of his life go to prove that he never could hâve written this. His 
family theu consisted of his mother and Mme. Surville. His affection 
for M. and Mme. Surville appears in every part of his life. His mother 
seems to hâve heen at times irritating, and verv injndicious with him, 
but not in the way suggested. At one period he intrnsted her with ail 
his affairs, and she was his business agent. He shows in his life and 
writings a strong respect for the Family bond, and his last lctter to his 
mother is signed " Ton fils soumis " — " Your subraissive son." — Tk, 



132 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

yictor to hâve beaten it. But family griefs are between 
us and God. 

I told Borget tliat Septeraber would see me in Vienna, 
and a whole year in the Ukraine and the Crimea, and you 
know I wrote him tliat lie could meet you in Italy. I 
send you a scrap of a letter f rom tliat excellent friend ; it 
will please you ; you will see in it tliat nobility of soûl, 
that beauty of sentiment, that make us love him. AVhat 
rush of love he lias to those who love his friend ! But 
do not go and love him too much, Madame. He will take 
to you your chaut, the sketches of my apartment, and 
your seal, if it is doue, without knowing what he hands to 
you. 80 tell me the day you will be in Venice; lie will 
go there. Ile is my Thaddeus, you see. What he does 
for me, I should do for him. One is never jealous of 
fine sentiments. As much as death entered cold into 
your husband's heart when you spoke of a coquetry to 
Séverine, so much should I go joyously to accomplish in 
your name a service to your Thaddeus. 

From to-day, Sunday, I shall write to you every day a 
word, on a little diary. Yes, the Wurtemberg Coquebin 
shall aloue touch the manuscript of u Séraphita," which 
will be coarsely l>ound in the gray cîoth which slipped so 
easily on the noors. Ara I not a little of a woman, hey, 
minette? Hâve J not found a pretty use for what you 
wanted destroyed, and a souvenir? Nothing can be more 
precious, or simpler. Book of celestial love, clothed in 
love and in joys terrestrial as complète as it is possible 
to hâve hère below. Yes, an gel, complète, full ! Yes, 
my ambitious one, you fill ail my iife! Yes, we can be 
happy every day, feeling every day new joys. 

Mon Dieu ! Friday at dinner I saw in my sister's home 
one of those scènes which prove that inspired love, tliat 
jealous love, that nothing in Paris can resist continued 
poverty. Oh ! dear augel, what a terrible réaction in mv 
heart, thinking of the little home in the rue Cassini, IIow 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 133 

I swore to myself then, with that iron will, never to expose 
the flowers of my life to be in the brown pot in which were 
the pinks of Ida's mother, — youknow, in " Ferragus." 
No, no, I never could hâve that expérience, for never 
shall I forget the 14th of February, 1834, any more than 
the 26th of January ; there is a lesson in it for me. Yes, 
I want too much ; there exists in my being an invincible 
need to love y ou always better, that I may never expose 
my love to any misunderstanding. Oh, my heart, my 
soûl, my life, with what joy I recognize at every step that 
I love you as you dream of being loved. The most indif- 
fèrent things enter into this circumference. 

No, your young girl's chain shall remain pure. I would 
like to employ it. It is too pretty for a man. That is 
why I wanted your head by Grosclaude. What a deli- 
cious border I could hâve made of it, and what a delicious 
thought to surround you, you, my dear wife, with ail the 
superstitions of your childhood which I adore. Your 
childhood was mine. We are brothers and sisters through 
the sorrows of childhood. 

There is one of your smiles of happiness, a ravishing 
little contraction, a paleness that takes you at the moment 
of joy, which returns to stab me with intoxicating memo- 
ries. Oh ! you do not know with what depth you corre- 
spond to the caprices, the loves, the pleasures, the poésies, 
the sentiments of my nature! 

Corne, adieu. Think, my beloved, that at every instant 
of the day a thought of love surrounds you ; that a light 
more biïlliant and secret gilds your atmosphère ; that my 
thought is ail about you ; that my interior eyes see you ; 
that a constant désire caresses you ; that I work in your 
name and for you. Take good care of yourself; and 
remember that the only serious order that is given to you 
by him who loves you and whom you hâve told me you 
wished to obey is to tvaUc a great deal whatever the 
weather may be. You must. Ah ! the doctor laughed 



134 Honore de Bahae. [1834 

at my fears. Nevertheless, there are baths to be taken, 
and some précautions, " fruits of my excessive labour," 
lie said. Ci 80 long as you lead your chaste, monkisli 
life and work your twelve liours a day, take every morn- 
ing an infusion of ivild pansy" Is n't his prescription 
droll? 

You know ail tlie oaressing desires that I send you. 
Well, I hope that every Wednesday } t ou will know how 
to draw my letter from the claws of the post. From novv 
till the end of the mont h I shall work only my twelve 
liours, sleep seven, and spread ont the five others in rest, 
reading, baths, and the bustle of life. Your Bengali is 
wise. Well, a thousand lîowers of the soûl. Ail rerlec- 
tiou made, I shall send your ostensible letter by Borget. 

Pakis, February 17 — February 23, 1834. 

No letter to-day, my dearest Eve. Mon Dieu ! are you 
ill? What tortures one lias at such a distance! If you 
are ill, and they bave taken your letters ! A thousand 
thoughts enter my brain and make me desperate. 

To-day I work much, but get on little. To-morrow I 
am forced to go and dine with M. de Margonne, the lord 
of Sache. Nevertheless, I get up at half-past one in 
the morning and go to bed at half-past six. M y habits 
of work are resumed and the fatigues of toil ; but I bear 
them well. I find unheard-of diiiiculties in doing well 
what I hâve to do at this moment. At every instant of 
the day my thought Aies to you. I hâve mortal fears of 
being less loved. I adore you with such complète aban- 
donment! I hâve such need of knowing myself loved! 
I can be happy only when I receive a letter from you, not 
every day, but every two day s. Your letters refresh my 
soûl ; they cast into it celestiai balm. 

You cannot doubt me; I work night and day, and 
every line brings me nearer to you. But you, my be- 
loved angel, what are you doing? You are idle ; you still 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 135 

see a little company. Mon Dieu ! what ties are between 
us î They will not break, say ! You do not know how 
much I am attachée! to you by ail the things that you 
thought would detach me. There is not only ungovernable 
love, passions, happiness, pleasures, there is also, from me 
to you, I know not what profound esteem of moral quali- 
ties. Your mind will always please me ; your soûl is 
strong ; you are fully the wife I désire for mine. I go over 
deliciously within me those forty-five days, and every - 
thing proves to me that I am right in rny love. Yes, I 
can love you always ; always hold out to you a hand full 
of true affection and redeive you in a heart that is always 
full of you. I like to speak to you of your superiority 
because it is real. Every sound your soûl gives out is 
grand, strong, and true. I am very happy through you in 
thinking that you hâve ail the qualities which perpetuate 
attachaient in life. 

My dear flower of love, I wrote in my last letter that I 
wished you to walk ; but I wish more, I also wish you to 
give up coffee au lait and tea. I wish you to obey me, 
and I désire that you shall only eat dark méats. Above 
ail, that you bring yourself gradually to using cold water 
when you dress. Will you not do ail that when it is • 
asked of you in the name of love? Do not départ in any 
way from that regimen. As for walking, begin by short 
walk s and increase every day till you can do six miles on 
foot. Take your walk fasting, getting up, and coming 
back to breakfast on a little méat, but dark and always 
roasted. If you love me you will manage yourself in this 
way with a constancy that nothing hinders. Then your 
beauty will remain the same ; you will get slightly thinner, 
your health will be good, and you will prevent many ill- 
nesses. Oh ! I implore you, folio w this regimen, and 
when you are near the seà take sea-baths. You do not 
know how I love you. 



1-36 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

Tuesday, 18. 

Still no letter; what angnish! I hâve just returned 
from Madame de C[astries], whom I do not want for au 
eneuiy when my book cornes ont, and tlie best means of 
obtaining a defender against the faubourg Saint-Germain 
is to make lier approve of the work in advance ; and slie 
greatly approved of it. 1 earried to Madame Appony 
Madame Potoçka's leiter. The ambassadress [of Aus- 
tria] was ai lier toilei; I did not sec lier, and, on the 
whole, I am content; J do not want to Le disturbed, I 
wish to go nowhere, and tiie singular idea lias corne to me 
of shaving my head like a monk so as to Le unaLle to go 
ont of the honse. I hâve to go to a bail Saturday at 
DaLlin's; lie lias doue me services, and I am forced to 
hâve some gratitude. 

Do y ou know there is some question of my taking my 
mother, sister, and brother-indaw to live hère? I await a 
family council upon it. I see many inconveniences ; tite 
lesseningof my liberty, thougli nothing would prevent my 
going to the Ukraine and Yienna and absenting myself 
two years. But, for the last tvro da\s, my reason tells 
me to refuse this union ; and yet it is the only means to 
prevent my mother from committing fol lies. YVhat vexa- 
tions and impedimenta ! I hâve worked Utile to-day and 
hâve rnshed about much. 

Wedncsday, 19. 

Furious work. The u Duchesse de Langeais " costs me 
more fhan I can tell you. In my opinion it is colossal in 
work, but it will be little appreciated by the crowd. My 
publisher refuses me any money for my month's bills ; 
hère I am constrained to a thousand annoying efforts, 
and shall I succeed? Ile is right ; lie représenta Madame 
Bêchet, and tells me lie can't ask lier to pay in advance ; 
the new Part raust absolu tel y be brought ont. 80 I send 
you a thousand tendornesse ;. llere, reading this Une, 
vou must thiiik that the h.vrt of volt lovei was full of 



1834] Letters to Madame Hans 7 ca. 137 

love, that he had need to write to you a thousand gra- 
cious things, but that he must be silent and work ! Till 
to-morrow. 

Thursday, 20, five o'clock. 

My mother, sister, and brother-in-law are coming to 
dinner to talk over affairs. I hâve worked since one hour 
after midnight till three hours after midday without leav- 
ing off. JSow, angel of mine, deeidedly yon wiil shudder, 
you will palpitate, when you read tlie u Duchesse de 
Langeais," for it is the greatest thing in women that I 
hâve so far done. No woman of this Faubourg resem- 
bles lier. 

You hâve a thousand thoughts of love, a thousand 
caresses, a thousand prettinesses. I think of you and 
your pleasure when I hear my name uttered gloriously 
everywhere. I wish to become great for a sentiment 
greater still. 

Till to-morrow. A kiss to the wife, a little pigeonnerie 
to Eve. A thousand soûls for you in my soûl. 

Friday, 21. 

I have your letter, the second letter written to your 
dearest one. Mon Dieu ! how I love you ! The thousand 
desires, the hopes of happiness which fired my heart at 
each turn of the wheel as I went to Nenfchâtel, the cer- 
tain delights that I went to find in Geneva and which 
made you sublime, ravishing, in short a wife, fore ver 
mine, — well, I have felt ail those divers émotions once 
more, augmented by dear joys, by the adorable security 
of an angel in his sk} T . 

Oh ! my love, what rapid wings have borne me near to 
you ! Yes, my thought has kissed your magnificent fore- 
head, my heart has been in your heart, my thought in 
your beautiful hair, and my mouth — I dare not say, but 
certainly it breathed love and kissed you with unheard-of 
ardour. Oh! dear Eve, dear'treasure of happiness, dear, 



138 Honoré de Balzac. [1334 

noble soûl, dear light, dear world, m y only happiness, 
how shall I tell you fully that I feltthere tbat I loved you 
in œternum/ I ought to bave read tbat letter on my 
knees before your portrait! What courage you eom- 
municate to me ! 

Eh bien, I am glad at what you inform me of. To 
hâve it so, it must be tbe fruit of conscientious tbought. 
Oh ! dear dariing, ï want tbat this otber you, tins otlier 
we, well, I wish be may bave ail tiiat can flatter tbe vani- 
ties of a raother, tbat be may be tall, tbat be bave your 
forebead, my energy, tbat be be handsome and noble, a 
great beart and a bue soûl. For ail that, wisdom! At 
Vienna, my love, at Vlenna, we will try. What delights 
in chastity, in famé, in work tbat bas an object. Fidelity, 
famé, toil, ail that for a woman, one only, for lier whose 
love shines already upon me for ail my life. Yes., Eva, 
Eva of love, my benutiful and noble mistress, my pretty, 
naïve servant, my great sovcreign, my fairy, my flower, 
yes, you light ail tbings ! Persist in your projects ; be a 
woman as superior in your eonduet as you are in your 
plans. Be as strong in your bouse as you are in your 
love. 

Oh! your letters, tbey ravish me, they stir me; oh! 
you make me dote upon you ! What a soûl, what a heart, 
what a dear mind ! You crown my ambitions, and yes- 
terday I was sajûnjï to Mme. de B . . . that you were — 
you, tbe unknowii of (ieneva and Neufchatel — tbe realiza- 
tion of tbe ambitions programme I bad made of a woman. 

Ah ! my love, it is somothing, after tbe triumph that 
ail women désire to obtain over tbe sensés and tbe heart 
of their loyers, to obtain also the complète and entire as- 
surance that they are admired froin afar, that we can 
always esteem tliem, cherish them, take i)leasure l>eside 
them. Sueh as you bave seen me near you, such I shall 
ever be. To you ail my smiles, to you the flowers of 
heart and love, inexbaustibîe in their bloom. To you the 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 189 

candour and freshness of my sentiments, to you ail. To 
you, wbo understand the mind, the gaiety, the melancholy, 
tlie grandeur, the transports of the ever diverse love of a 
poet! Oh! I stop, kissingyour eyes. 

To-morrow I rush- about ; I hâve tiresome business 
matters ; but this is the last time. I shall finish at one 
blow the difficulty about the " Physiologie du Mariage," 
and by the end of Mardi I shall not owe a sou to 
Madame Delannoy. After? Well, I shall résume work 
to accomplish the rest. I tell you nothing of thèse tramps, 
but they take much time, weary me, exhaust me, and my 
love, as much as necessity, cries to me every morning, 
" Mardi! " 

My love, my Eve, night and day I go to sleep and wake 
in your lieart, in your thought. To suffer, to work for you, 
tuese are pleasures. Till to-morrow. 

Saturday, 22. 
I hâve just received your ostensible letter and hâve 
answered it. I spoke stupidly of your chain, but I hâve 
not the heart to throw the letter into the fire and write it 
over again. I am tired. To-night I must go to a bail; 
I, at a bail ! But, my love, I must. It is at the house of 
the only friend who lias ever gallantly served me. I will 
send you the patteni of a chain, that of Vaucanson ; hâve 
it made solid, and Liodet can send it to me and draw on 
me for the cost. Tell me if bronze-gilt things can enter 
Russia. I hâve h ad an admirable three-branched candela- 
brum made hère, and I should like to send you one ; also 
an inkstand and an alarm-clock (a very useful thing to a 
woraan), in short, ail that I use hère to be the sarae witb 
you. If I had been richer do you think I would not hâve 
substituted to you a chain like. yours and taken yours, in 
order that you might say to yourself while playing with 
it, " He plays with that chain! " But I can make such 
joys for ourselves later. Answer me about the bronze, 



140 Honoré de llahac. [1834 

because I want you to hâve tliat mnsterpiece before your 
eyes. Think, what liappiness to see as you write to me, 
Exsuliat ciiam angeloru/u, which I shall see in writing to 
you. Oh! I a m greecly, hungry for such things, which 
put two lovers unceasingly in each other's hearts ! I shall 
hâve your room at Wierzchownia made just iike mine hère. 
1 want you to hâve the same earpet. 

Oh! I adore you. Just now I wept on thinkingof the 
tloor of your house in Geneva. IIow lucky to hâve the 
strength not to cough ! Thèse tears hâve told me that I 
sîiall be at Vienna, September 10, and that I shall press 
you, happy one, on this heart that is ail yours. 

Behëte, m ten years you will be thirty-seven and I 
forty-live, and, at that âge we can love, marry, and adore 
each other for a lifetime. Corne, my noble companion, 
my dear Eve, never any doubts, — you hâve promised me. 
Love with confidence. Sérapliita is we two. Let us spread 
oui* wings with the saine movement, and love in the same 
way. I adore you, looking neither before nor behind. 
You are the présent, ail my liappiness at every moment. 

Do not be jealous of Madame P . . .'s letter ; that 
woman must ha for us. I hâve flattercd lier, and I want 
lier to think that you are disdained. Ail that I read you 
in the " Duchesse de Langeais " lias been changée! . You 
Avili read a new book. 

Dear angel, no, we will never quit the sphère of liappi- 
ness where you hâve made me a liappiness so complète. 
Love me always, you will see me always happy ; oh, my 
life, oh, my beautiful life ! Ilere, I no longer know what 
an annoyance is in seeing my whole life ardent with one 
sole love. Tell me what you are doing. Your visit to Gen- 
thod delighted me. Never let any woman bite you with- 
out biting lier deeper. They will fear you and esteem you. 

Thanks for the violet ; but an end of white ribbon 
would please me better ; it lias no longer any smell. I 
s end you a violet from my garden. 



1834] Letters to Madame, Han&ka. 111 

Sunday, 23. 

Adieu, soûl of my soûl ; will this letter tell you how 
you are loved? Will it tell it to you really? No; never 
really. Il faut mes coups de bec là ou est l 'amour. 

I hope to finish my volume this week. You will receive 
it in Geneva. Iwill attend to yonr orders, and do blindly 
what you tell me. But write names legibly in ail business. 

Would you believe that two young men dined with me 
yesterday and told me that several men, two of them 
friends of theirs, said they icere I at the [masked] bail 
at the Opéra, and obtained the favours of well-bred 
women while I was at Geneva, and that I hâve been thus 
calumniated. There are women who boast they hâve been 
mine, and that they corne to me, to rne, who see only la 
dilecta, who receive nobody, who want-to live in your 
heart ! I learned that last night. 

Well, adieu my love ; no, not adieu, but à bientôt, at 
Vienna, cara mia, my treasure. I hâve to work horribly, 
still ; seven or eight proof s to a sheet. Ah ! you will 
never know what the volume you will soon read lias cost. 

I hope to be in funds for my payments ; I hope that 
on March 25th the third Part will appear. So, ail goes 
well. I lose five hunclred francs more by Gosselin, but 
pooh! The violet will tell you a thousand things of love. 
The Wurtemberg Coquebin will bincl " Séraphita" marvel- 
lously with the gray cloth; do you understand, treasure? 

I go to-day at three o'clock to Madame Appony. Per- 
haps I shall wish to go to Madame Potoçka of Paris. I 
will speak to you of that. 

Paris, March 2, 1834. 

My salvation ! For my salvation ! No, let me believe 
that between the two persons of wdiom you are thinking 
and me, you hâve not hesitated, you hâve condemned me. 
At least, there is in that ail the grandeur of true love. 

I was w^orking night and day to go to you. Now I shall 



142 Honore de Balzac. [183-1 

certainly work as much, for it is not possil)le for me to 
take the slightest resolution till my mother is physically 
happy. I bave still a year to suffer. 

Let us say no more of me. 80 you bave been eruclly 
agitated? A sentiment which gives sucli remorse was 
feeble* and it is my beart tbat was blamed ! — I, to whom 
adoremus in ictennon meant sometbing! 

Fate is about to take from me a true affection, and 
to-day I lose ail my beliefs in happiness, witbout any- 
tbing being able to disengage me from myself. Ah ! you 
bave not known me! AU tbose who bave suffered for- 
give, you know. 1 sball stay as I am; I eannot change. 
You said yourself : " The Jules women love faitbfully^ in 
spite of désertion." Am I therefore not a man? Is tbis 
anotiier test? It costs me more thau life ; it costs me my 
courage. 

I eannot oppose to tbis blow either di«dain, contempt, 
or any of the egotistical sentiments tbat console. I 
remain in my stupor, witbout understanding. Ah ! I 
knew not tbat I was writing for myself : To luounded 
heaets, silence and, s/tff de. 

Mon Dieu! my book is finished; I am not ricb enougb 
to destroy it, but I lay it at your knees, begging you not 
to read it: Eve sbould not open a book in wbich is the 
" Duchesse de Langeais." You might, tbough certain of 
the entire dévotion of him who writes to y<m, l>e wounded, 
as one is pricked by bushes. I shall always weep at 
being unable to suppress it. 

I eannot bid you adieu ; I shall never qnit you more, 
and, from tbis day, I shall not allow myself even the siglit 
of a womaiL But you bave not told me ail! I bave been 
odiously calumniated. You bave given ear to impostors. 
There is room for many blow s in a beart like mine ; you 
eannot kiil it easily. It is eternally yours, witbout 
division. 

I tell you notbing of wbat is in my soûl; I hâve neither 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanslm. 143 

strength nor ideas. I suffer through you. So long as it 
is from your hand, why should I complain? Ah! you 
shall see tliat I know how to love. Our hearts will always 
understand each other. 

Paris, March 9, 1834. 

My angel returns to me ; ah ! I will hide my anguish 
from you, my griefs, my terrible resolutions of a week in 
which ail things hâve corne together to rend my heart. 
You, Monday ; Tuesday. I quarrelled, perhaps to fi g lit, 
with Emile de Girardin, — that was happiness. There 's 
a society I shall never see again and never want to see. 
My enemies are setting about a rumour of my liaison 
with a Russian princess ; they name Madame P . . . 
I hâve seen since my return only Madame Appony, 
Madame de C . . . , Madame de G ... , and, for one 
hour, Madame de la B . . . That rumour can corne 
only from Geneva, and not from me, who hâve never 
opened my mouth about my journey. Hère I am, on 
bad terms with Madame de C[astries] on account of the 
u Duchesse de Langeais" — so much the better. But 
ail this happens at once. So, no solitude shall ever be 
more complète than mine. 

I hâve but an hour in which to answer you. Oh ! my 
love, I swear to you I wrote to Madame P . . . only to 
prevent the road to Russia being closed to me. Tt wouîd 
be poor cleverness to hâve it said hère, in Paris, that I am 
starting for Russia. That is the way to hâve passports 
refused to me when I ask for t'hem. I hâve not seen 
Zaluzki. Is it he who talks? Mon Dieu! I, in my hole, 
to be subjected to such griefs. Read the " Duchesse de 
Langeais." You will read it with delight. As true as 
that I love and adore 3 7 ou, I never said more than two 
sentences to Madame Bossi, and I never looked at her. 

You désire, oh, my angel, that I shall not again be 
coquettish except with men. But between now and 
Vienna there is only toil and solitude. Give me the 



144 11 on» ré de Balzac. 1.1834 

means to send y ou my book. and your eoffee, in which 
will be your hair-ehain. Therefore, undo the pareel 
yourself. 

Ne\er give yourself such anxieties again ; yesterday, 
Saturday, wiUiout La diicrta, I should iiave killed my- 
self. On! I entrent yuu, if you wish tiial I should esteem 
you and adore you to the end oî" our days, do uot change; 
be soiely mine. J, do you see ? bave noue but you. The 
superhuman efforts Unit i make are the gréâtes t proofs of 
love a mail eau give. Oh, dear, adored une, my Eve, my 
Eva, to give bis lîfe, what îs tLud? iNothiug. Each time 
that I saw you I gave it without regret. I sacriiieed ail 
to you. But to rise every day at midnight to plunge 
into a crater of work, and to do it with one naine upon 
my lips, one imago in my beart, one woraan before me! 
— strcnyth and consfanr// ; 1 live onîy by the sentiment 
of grandeur which a mysterious love conveys to me. 
This is loving. Oh ! be my true Béatrice, a Béatrice wlio 
gives herself, but remains an angeb a light ! Ail that 
your jealousy can dcmand, ail that your caprice can 
exact shall be donc with joy. Except the dilccta, who 
corrects my proofs and who, I svvcar b) you, is a mother, 
no woman shall hear me, shall see me. 

M y mother and sis ter bave deeided. They will live 
together, and not corne to me. I am stiil free. 

Oh, my love, my love, dear and adored, forgive me my 
answer to your letter ; but to sacrifice a love like mine to 
a child, to a husband, to reject it for any interest what- 
ever ; that kills me. Oh, my angel, to tiiiïik that you are 
a fancy, after ail that you said to me, after ail that you 
exacted, ail that I aceomplished, — it is enough to die of 
it ! J am proudly a poet ; I live by the heart, by senti- 
ments only, and î bave but one sentiment. My dilecta, 
at sixty years of âge, is no longer anytliing but a mother; 
she is ail my family, as you are ail my heart, ail my 
future ! 



1834] Letters to Madame Hamka. 145 

I hâve to work hard; the "Duchesse" wilï appear on 
the 15th; she excites ail Paris already. Mon Dieu! a 
thousand kisses; may each be worth a thousand. Oh, 
my angel, I hope I may uot again hâve to tell you that 
to betray me in the name of any one whatever is to put 
me to death. I kiss you with transport. The Bengali 
is virtuous. He is dead under his toil. 

Put Ave on the inkstand. The ." Contes Drolatiques" 
will tell you why. 

I hâve said nothing. I had a thousand effusions of the 
soûl ; I am forced to keep them back. This letter must 
go to the post at one o'clock. I received yours at 
midday. 

Paris, Mardi 11, 1834. 

My flower, my one sole love, T hâve just received the 
letter you wrote me after having received the letter of 
badnesses. Oh! what happiness to be able to write to you 
once more so that you can leave Geneva without a regret ! 
Since the letter in which you return to me, you cannot 
imagine how beautiful, grand, sumptuous, has been the 
fête in my heart at the recovery of your cherished heart. 
What joy, what intoxication of thought, what f orgetfulness 
of pain, or rather how sweet its memory is, since it tells 
me how much you are loved, adored, as you wish to be. 
Oh! if you had seen ail that, never a suspicion, nor a 
doubting word, nor a written phrase would dishonour the 
purity, the blue immensity of this love that dyes ail my 
soûl, fills ail my life, is become the foundation of ail my 
thoughts. 

For the last two days I am drunk with happiness, 
glad, joyous, dancing, when I hâve a moment, jumping 
like a child. Oh, dear talisman of happiness, darling 
Eva, minette, wife, sister, family, light, ail! I live alone 
in delights ; I hâve said a sincère farewell to the world, to 
ail. Mon Dieu! forgive what you call my coquetries ; I 
kneel at your beloved knees, dimpled, loved, kissed, 

10 



1-16 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

earessed; I lay my head against yon, I ask pardon, I 
will be solitary, a worker, I will waik with noue but 
Madame de 13 . . ., I will work without ceasing. Oh! 
blessed be the Salève, if the Salève gives me my happy 
Eve! Ah! dearest, I adore you, don't you see? I hâve 
no other life, no other future. 

I received yesterday a letter from Madame P . . . I 
shall not answer it, to end the correspondent. Besides, 
I can write only to you. My time is taken up in a fright- 
ful manner. For the last ten days I bave not varied 
it; to bed at six o'clock, rising at midnight. I shall do 
this till April 20. After which I shali take two weeks' 
liberty to rest. My book will appear on the lGth, the 
day of your departure from Geueva. You will fiiid it 
addressed to you, bureau restant, at the coacli oiïice in 
Genoa. 

I wrote you in great haste on Sunday. Incredible 
taies are being told about me. YVhile I am sitting up ail 
night they say an Englishwoman lias eloped with me. It 
is no longer a Russian prineess; it is an Englishwoman. 
Oh ! my dear treasure, I implore you, never let your dear 
celestial forehead be elouded by the effect of a "they 
say," for you will hear it gravely said that I am crazy, 
and a thousand absurdities. Write to me and expect an 
answer. I never keep you waiting. Your dear writing 
overcomes me ; it shines in my eyes like the suri. I fecl 
you, I breathe you when I see it. 

Y^ou will travel surrounded by the thoughts of love ; I 
accompany you in idea, I never leave you. At each cor- 
rection made, at each page written, I cry, " Vieima ! " 
That is my word of joy, my exclamation of happiness. 
Why do you speak of God? There are not two religions, 
and } T ou are mine. If you totter, I shall believe in noth- 
ing. Oh! my love, you hâve given me yoursrff ; you will 
never withdraw it. One alone cannot break that which 
belongs to two. You are ail nobleness, be ail constancy. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 147 

I shall be that without effort, with joy; I love you like 
my breath, and in œternum; oh, yes, for ail my life. 

I cannot tell you tbe sufferings of my week of passion, 
of my désire to go and end my days at your house in 
Neufchâtel. I told Borget to corne at once. I withdrew 
u 8éraphita" from tbe printers, and meant to send .you a 
sole copy (without the manuscript), bound with yonr gifts 
of love. In short, a thousand follies, a thousand tempests 
agitated my heart cruelly. Oh ! I am much of a child ! 
It is a crime to forment a love so true, so pure, so unutter- 
able ! Oh! how angry I was with you! I cursed your 
analyzing forehead, on which I place a thousand kisses 
of love. Oh! my good treasure, make me no more bitter- 
ness. In writing a few sweet things to Madame P . . . I 
had in view to stand well with the dear ambassadress, 
because, through her, I shall hâve Pozzo di Borgo, and 
I do not want any hindrance to my year in the Ukraine, 
the iirst complète happiness of my life. So, if your 
cousin shows you my letter triumphantly, play the dis- 
dained, I entreat you. To see the Ukraine, eighteen 
good months! and no money interests to hamper me! I 
can even die for you without wronging any one. Listen, 
my love ; this is the secret of my nights : that I may be 
happy without a thought to tarnish my joy ! After that, 
I can die happy, if I bave lived one year beside you. 
Every hour would be the most beautiful poem of love. 
At every hour I should be happy with the happiness of 
a child, a schoolboy, who believes with delight in the love 
of a woman. If heaven marries us some day, at what- 
ever moment of my life it be, it will be the union of two 
soûls in one. You are a dear, loved spirit. You please 
me in ail ways, and you are, far-off or near, the superior 
woman, the mistress always clesired, each of us sustain- 
ing the other. It is so sweet to a man to lind that 
the mind, the heart, the soûl, the understanding of the 
woman who pours out to him his pleasures, is not narrow. 



148 Honoré de Balzac. [18.34 

Oh ! dearest, ail is in you. I believe in you, I love 
you, and as I bave known you better I hâve found a thou- 
sand reasons for eternal attachaient in estecm and in the 
thousand things of your heart and mind. There is no 
evil possible for me when I think of the life that you can 
make me by your love. In writing this, which you will 
read in that jroom of love before quitting it, I wish to cast 
upon this paper which you will hold ail my soûl, ail the 
tangible qualifies of a being who is y ours fore ver ; never 
withdraw from me the heart I bave pressed, the adorable 
cbarms of that cherished soûl — yourself in short. 

Adieu, soûl of my soûl, my fait h, strength, courage, 
love — ail the great sentiments that make a great man, 
and a happy life. Adieu ; à bientôt, and sooner than you 
think, dearest. 

Yes, J will love } T ou better than any woman was ever 
loved, and our "Chêne" will be better than that you 
picture to me. Coquette, indeed! You know well that 
my heart will rest in yours without other clouds to our 
love than those you make. 

Corne, Auguste, carry this to the gênerai post-office. 1 

Paris, Mardi 30 — April 3, 1834. 
I bave not written to you sooner, madame, because I 
presumed that you would not be in Florence before the 
lst of April. I bave sent to the addrcss of MM. Borri 
& Co. a iittle package containing your copy of the second 
part of the *' Etudes de Mœurs au XIX e Siècle," and I 
bave a Ided the Prologue of the third dizain of the 
4t Contes Drolatiques" for M. Ilanski, inasmuch as there 
is something in it about a famous inkstand, and things 
that will make him laugh ; for I do not insuit you with 

1 This is the last but one of thèse spu rions letters. Tliere is one 
other wliidi plainlv belongs to this séries, but it lias been placed at a 
later date for a purpose wliicli will appear farther on. — Tr. 



1834] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 149* 

m y Prologue, pay attention to that. Tt is to M. Hanski, 
and not to y ou, that tins proof belongs. 

You will see at the encl of the "Duchesse de Lan- 
geais " that I hâve presèrved a remembrance of the Pré- 
l'Evêque by dating the work from that revolutionary and 
military spot where we saw sueh warlike intentions. The 
third dizain is also dated from the Eaux Vives, and the 
Hôtel de l'Arc. 

I hâve many things to tell you, but little time to my- 
self. My third Part is in the press, and I ought to make 
up for time lost. Nevertheless, Madame BGchet is a 
very good person. 

Forgive the want of order in my letter, but I will tell 
you the events that hâve happened to me as they corne 
into my memory. 

In the first place, I hâve said adieu to that mole-hill of 
Gay, Emile de Girardin and Company. I seized the first 
opportnnity, and it was so favorable that I broke off, 
point-blank. A disagreeable affair came near following; 
but my susceptibility as man of the pen was calmed by 
a collège friend, ex-captain in the ex-Royal Guard, who 
advised me. It ail ended with a piquant speech replying 
to a jest. 

Another thing I must tell you is that I hâve recently 
quarrelled also with the Fitz-James. And hère I am, 
as much alone as the woman most ambitious of love 
could désire, if any woman could wish for a man whom 
excessive work is withering more and more. It is two 
months to-day that I hâve been working eighteen hours 
a day. 

The "Médecin de campagne " will be completely sold 
off in a few days. I am in ail the fuss and worries of 
getting ont a new édition of that book, which I want to 
sell at thirty sous, in order to popularize it. 



150 Honore de Balzac. [1834 

Thursday, April 3. 

From Mardi 30, tlie day on which I hegan to write to 
you, unlil tbis eveniug, I bave been lymg on my pallet 
unable to write, read, or work, or do aisything at ail. 
A prostration of ail my forces inade me very anxious ; 
but to-day I am quite well, and I am going l'or a week to 
the Pavillon in the fores t of Fontainebleau. I bave 
ordered ail my letters to be kept in Paris. I want cbange 
of air, and to work at one thing only ; for I bave just 
suffered very much, but, thank God, it is ail over. I 
résume my letter. 

I invited your cousin Bernard . . . to dinner, with 
Zaluski, and Mickiewicz, your dearest poet, whose face 
pleased me mucli. Bernard is very bandsome and was 
very witty. 

I entreat you, madame, to send me word, by return of 
post, if you will still be in Florence May lOtli, how mucb 
time you stay in Rome, when you arrive, and wben you 
will leave ; because when my tbird Part is doue I sball 
liave twenty days to myself. I want to use tliem in 
travelling and doing nothing, and I sball nccompany 
Auguste Borget to Florence. AVe sball leave May Ist 
and it takes only eigbt days from Paris to Florence. 

Do not blâme me too mucb for the unpunctuality of 
my correspondence. In the extrême désire for Libkiïty 
which possesses me, I don't consult buman forces, I 
work exorbitantly. I bave at tbis moment in press : 
two volumes of my tbird Part of tbe " Etudes de Mœurs," 
two volumes of " Les Chouans," and the tbird dizah) ; 
then, in a w r eek from now T , two volumes for Gosselin. It 
is enough to terri f y one. But there are two magie w r ords 
wliich make me able to do ail: liherty on the lst of Sep- 
tember ; Vienna on that day; and I shall not regret my 
nights or my tortures, for pen-receipts will tally with 
expenses. 

Mon Dieu ! what a charming project, — to be in Florence 



1834] Letters to Madame Hansha. 151 

May 10, and back in Paris for the 20th ! To see Florence 
with you ! Write me quiekly ; for after thèse terrible toiîs 
through the month of April I must bave twenty days' 
rest, and I know nothing more delightful than to see an 
Italian city while accompanying a friend. 

I think of you very often, and I much regret Geneva, 
where 1 worked so much, ail the while amusing myself. 
Except for a few worries, my affairs are going well. 
Sonie flatterers say that my famé is increasing, but I 
know nothing of that, for I ]ive in my chimney-corner, 
working for citizen rights in the Ukraine. Your poor 
" Séraphita ' 7 is laid aside. TVhat is promised must be doue 
before ail else. You yourself, without knowing it, tell 
me to work. I keep before me the hon a tirer [order to 
print] which you gave for one sheet in Geneva, and it 
seems to me a perpétuai counsel. Do you know, it is 
rather melancholy to think of you only with regrets. 
You do not know that for twelve or fifteen years, Neuf- 
châtel and Geneva are the two sole periods when I hâve 
been permitted, by what grâce of heaveu I know not, to 
look neither forward nor back ; to live beneath the sky 
without. thinking of griefs, or business, orpoverty; you 
hâve been to me something beneficent. There is more 
gratitude in my remembrance than you know. And now 
that I hâve been nailed to an insatiable table for two 
months, and shall be for another month, leaving it only 
to sleep, I cannot think without émotion of the walks to 
Sacconex, to Coppet, and of your house, and my hunger 
which made us leave the garden wiiere we w r ere sitting 
under the willows and you discovered that good smell in 
the Indian chestnut, macerated in water. There are none 
of those tranquil pleasures in Paris. But I am not in 
Paris now. 

Hère I am alone, much alone. I hâve parted from 
society, and hâve returned to my former fruitful soli- 
tude. Before ail things else, I must finish a book, 



152 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

and the "Etudes de Mœurs" ougbt to be fîuished this 
year. My liberty will be to go and corne and remain 
where I please to go and remain. Kevertheless, I do 
not know a more agreeable trip tban to Florence to see 
you for hve days, and hoar you for one single evening 
say tk tiyeuilles " or "Iodet." Tbat, I think, would restore 
my courage for another tiiree months. 

Perhaps 1 slmll bring M. Ilanski the third dizain to 
laiigh away bis "blue devils;" at any rate, lie must be 
very ill if be resists my wild joy. It is two montbs since 
I laugbed ; one more will make tbree; but then be shall 
die of laughing. Tell bini tbat as Geneva was so base 
in the matter of the poor Pôles, I will never speak well 
of Geneva again. Are you comfortable in Ilaly? llow 
did you cross the mouniains? I follow you in thougbt. 
Ilave you thougbt of your poor, humble moujik and bis 
blonde- capricieuse at Aix? You ougbt to bave thougbt of 
him at Aiguebelles, where the servants at the inn are so 
gracions, and at Turin, where lie wished to go. Thank 
you, madame, if you' think a little of him who thinks 
much of you. 

I bave not seen Grosclaude. Our Exhibition is détect- 
able. There arc five to ten fine pictures in tbree thou- 
sand tive hundred canvases. 

IIow is your dear Anna? You will tell me, won't 
you, how your little earavan rolls on? M. Bernard 
. . . came yesterday to make me compliments on the 
"Duchesse de Langeais," and was very gracions. 

Mon Die te ! you will forgive me — me, a poor hennit 
toiler — for talking to you so much of myself, beeause I 
ara calling for your egotism in reply ; to talk to me solely 
of yourself would be doing well by me. I can tell you 
only two things: J work conslantly, I pay, \ think of my 
friends. 1 bave in my beart a happy corner, and tbat 
ougbt to suilice to make a noble life. JMy u blue devils" 
bave no time to rise to the surface. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hamlm. 153 

Do you still intend to play Grandet at Wierzchownia? 
for in that case I shall await tbirty invitations before 
going there, to save provisions. Do you want anything 
in Paris? I hope tbat you and M. Hanski will not 
cinploy any other correspondent than me. But Borget 
and I will arrive laden with cotignac, peach préserves, 
and Angoulême and Strasburg pâtés. You ougbt to give 
me a commission; you don't know what pleasure it is to 
me to busy inyself for something a friend asks of me, 
how it brightens m y life. A fancy — tbat 's myself 
only; but tbe fancy of anotber, whoni I love, is a double 
fancy. 

Spacbmann [binder] bas done your album, and I am 
beginning to collect tbe autograpbs. It will take long, 
but you shall bave it, with patience. I begin with the 
oldest. Pigault-Lebrun is eighty-flve years old; be 
shall begin it. 

Adieu, madame, I would like to keep on writing to 
you ahvays, just as wben I w T as by your fireside I did 
not want to go away. But I must bid you adieu — no, 
not adieu, but au revoir. I shall await with great 
impatience your answer, to know. if you will be in 
Florence May 10. Do be there ! The shorter tbe jour- 
ney, tbe longer time I shall bave to see you; I hâve 
twenty days to myself, no more. The twenty-first I 
must résume the yohe of miser y. 

Madame de G[irardin] bas made m a 113' efforts to get 
me back again, but your obstinate moujik — be w T ou!d 
not be moujik if be did not say u nie " — bas said nay 
as elegantly as be could, for be is a little civilized, your 
devoted moujik. 1 

Honoré de Balzac. 

1 Delphine de Girardin made m any attempts to recover him, and 
did so, finally. Tu s])ite of bis estrangement i'rom lier house slie was 
ahvays loyal to him ; and durino- tlie time of liis quarrel with her 1ms- 
band she wrote many kind things of liim in " La Presse." — Tr. 



154 Honoré de Balzac. [i83i 

You know that ail I wish to say to those about } T ou; 
my regards, my respects, will bave more value by pass- 
ing through your lips. 

Fhapesle, ncar Issoudux, April 10, 18,'U. 

Madame, — Since I bad llie pleasure of writing to you 
I bave been very ill. My night work, my excesses, 
bave been paid for. I fell ii)to a state of prostration 
wbicb did not allow me to read or write or eveu to liston 
to a sustained discussion. My bodily weakness equalkd 
the intellectiml weakness. 1 could not move. "What 
bas frigbtened me most is that for the last tvvo years 
thèse attacks of debility bave increased. At first, after 
a month of toil, 1 wouid feel one or two hours' weakness; 
then live bours, thon a whole day. Since tben ihe 
weak-ness bas become excessive, lasting two days, three 
days. Tins tinte it corne near deatb; but for the last 
te n days I am convalescent. 1 The doctor ordered me 
change of air, absolute repose, no occupation, and nour- 
ishing food. 8o I am hère for ten days in Berry, at 
Issoudun, with Madame Carraud. 

To-day, April KJtii, I am better; T can write to y< u 
and tell you of my little death-struggle, my despair, for, 
feeling no force, no tîiought within me, I wept like a ehild. 
But to-day I recover courage ; passât*, pçricolo, yabbalo 
il sunto. I shall laugh at the doctor who said to me: — 

"You will die like Bichat, like B.-clnrtl, like ail those 
who abuse by tlieir brain the human forces; and what 
is so extraordinary in this is that you — you the most 
energetic forbhhler of émotion, you tiie apostle who 
preach the absence of thought, you who prétend that 
life goes off in the passions and by the action of the 
brain more than by bodily motions, — you will be dead 
for liaving neglected the formulas you formulatcd! " 

1 This letter in tho French volume is dated Apvil 10, wliieh is. of 
course, wroug, or else the previous letter is niisdatetl. — Tk. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 155 

From ail tbis bas résulter!, madame, a good and 
beautiful projeet of opposing to eaeh month of toil a 
fiill month of amusement. So, from the lOth or 12th 
of May, I sball take twenty days in which to go and see 
you for two or three days wherever you are in Italy. If 
you are willing to see Saint Peter's at Rome in June, we 
will see Rome* together. Then, after admiring Rome 
for five days, I will corne back and take up my yoke. 
Next, having spent July and August on new pensums, 
I will go to see Gennany, and sainte you once more 
in Vicnna, for I don't kuow auything sweeter than 
to give a purpose of friendship to a journey of pure 
amusement, to go in search of two or three gentle 
evenings, and make you laugh, and chase away the 
" bine devils." 

You bave nôt written to me; do you know that tbere 
is ingratitude in you ? it is you who bave a '"Trench" 
heart. What! not the smallest little line! Nothing 
from Genoa, notbing from Florence. You received, I 
bope, in Florence, my tbird Fart, and the third dizain 
to make M. Hanski laugh. 

Just now I am complet ing the tbird Part, and doing a 
master-work, — ■ "César Birotteau," — the brotber of bim 
whom you know, victim like bis brother, but victim of 
P:\risian civil ization, whereas bis brother is the Victim 
of a single man. It is another "Médecin de campagne," 
but in Paris; it is Socrates stnpid, drinking, in sbadow 
and drop by drop, bis bemlock; an angel trocklen under- 
foot, an hrmest man misjudged. Ah! it is a great 
picture; it will be grander, more vast than anything I 
bave yet done. I want, if you forget me, that my name 
should be cast to you by Famé, as a reproach. 

Do you know, madame, that you are very seriously 
in my prayers of night and morning, — you and a'1 those 
you care for? You do not truly know the heart which 
chance bas made you meet. A désire to boast possesses 



150 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

me — but no; time will be to y ou .a too constant, too 
noble eulogy on nie. I do not wish to add to it. 

As soon as "Birotteau" is printed, tlie third l'art 
ont, the dizain in the light, I shall rush joyously to Italy 
to seek your approbation as a sweet reward. Maître 
Borget eannot eome with me; you will see bim, no 
doubt, in Venice; l>ut the artist moves slowly, lie sips 
ail, whereas I am forced to go like the wind and retuni 
like a vapour. Borget is hère, and returns with me to 
Paris, April 20. 

Poor Madame Carraud is very unwell, and is causing 
alarm to her friends. She eonfided to me the secret of 
her sufferings. She is perhaps pregnant, and another 
child would be lier death. She lias hardly strength 
to live. 

I beg of you, pyrite me in détail about your travelling 
life, that I may know ail your joys and even your disap- 
pointments. I hâve so much admired the splendid face 
of Miekiewicz; what a noble head ! Write me yyliat " 
you think of the "Duchesse de Langeais." Kiss Anna 
on the forehead for me, her poor home. Présent m y 
regards to M. Ilanski ; how does Italy suit hiin? M y 
respects to Mademoiselle Séverine. To you, madame, 
my most affectionate thoughts. 

I nnist bid you adieu for to-day, l)ecause work calls 
me. In ten days, after "Birotteau " is doue, T will write 
you a long letter and make up arrears. I will tell you 
my past troubles, my sufferings laid to rest, and my 
sensations, inasmuch as you deign to take an interest 
in your poor literary moujik. Your beautiful Séraphita 
is very mournf ul ; she bas folded her wings and awaits 
the hour to be yours. T will not hâve a single rival 
tbought disturb that thought you bave adopted. Perhaps 
I will bring her-to Borne that she may be doue, Utile by 
little, inulo.r your eyes. Each day enlarges the picture 
and magnifies it. 



1834] Letters to Madame ITanska. 157 

I hâve not had time to answer Madame Jeroslas ... ; 
she cannot be pleased with me; truly it is not possible 
for me to write except to you and the persons who are 
nearest to my beart. One bas bat three friends in tbe 
world, and if one is not exclusive for them, wbat good 
is it to love? Wben I bave an instant to nryself I am 
too tired to write; but I think; I carry my tbougbts 
back to Geneva, I utter, mechanically, "tiyeuilles," and 
I illusion myself. Tben a proof arrives, and I return to 
my sad condition of workman, of manual labour. 

Well, adieu. Be happy; see the beautiful scenery, 
the fine pictures, the masterpieces, the galleries, and say 
to yourself if some gnat hums, or tbe tire sparkles, or 
a fia me darts up, it is a friend's thought coming from 
my beart, from my soûl toward you ; and that I, too, — 
I would like my share in those beautiful enjoyments of 
art, but that I am hère iu my galley, having nought to 
offer you except a thought — but a constant thought. 

I wrote you on the day I felt recovered; therefore 
bave no fear if you take an iuterest in my health. I 
bave no more weakness except in the eyes. 

Paris, April 28, 1834. 

Madame, — I bave just received your good letter of 
the 20th, written in Florence; and you know by this 
time that it is impossible for me to go there. You must 
bave received my little line from Issoudun, in which I 
asked you with great cries for Saint Peter' s in Rome. 
For that trip I can answer. At that time ail my affairs 
will be arranged. But Madame Bêchet needs me and 
my Parts, 'otherwise she will be compromised. 

I bope you bave not mingled anything personal in 
your reflections on: "it was only a poem " [conclusion 
of the "Duchesse de Langeais"]. You feel, of course, 
that a Tldrteener must hâve been a m an of iron. You 
would not accuse an author of thinking ail be w T rites? 



lo8 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

If painters, poets, artists were sharers in ail thcy repre- 
sent, tliey would die at twenty-live. No, m y duchess 
is not m y Fornarina. YVhen 1 Lave lier — but 1 itavc a 
Fornarina — I shali neverpaint lier, lier adorable spirit 
may animale m y son], lier heart inay be In m y heart, 
lier life in my lif'e, but paint ber, show lier lo the pub- 
lie! — I would sooner die ol' hungei, i'or 1 shouid die of 
shame. 

I a m very glad that you do nol yet know me fally; 
beeause uow you may, perhaps, love me bette r some day. 
Mon Dieu! vvbat you tell me of yonr bealtb and tbal 
of Monsieur Ilanski made me bound in my chair. 
Madame, m the naine of the sentiment, the sincère affec- 
tion I bear you,' I implore you when you or Monsieur 
Ilanski or your Anna are ill, write lo me. Don't laugh 
at what I am going to say lo you. Récent facts at 
Lssouduu proved to me that I possess a gieat magnetic 
power, and that either by a somnainbulist, or by myself, 
1 can cure tliose who are dear to me. Therefore, bave 
recourse to me. I will leave everything to go to you. 
I will dévote myself with the pions warmth of true dévo- 
tion to the care that illness needs, and I can give you 
undeniable proofs of that singular power. Therefore, 
put me in the vvay of knowing how you are. Don't 
deceive me, and don't laugh at tins. 

Your romances aftiict me. Why hâve such dark sup- 
positions? Mon Dieu! as for me, when 1 dream, I 
dream of happiness only. 

Yesterday, some one told me the secret of my jonr- 
neys was discovered, and that I had been to join'cjueen 
Hortense. I laughed much at that. 

You make me weep Avith rage when I read what you 
say of Florence. Shall I ever meet wiih a M that again? 
Oh! make me very supp!icating to M. Ilanski for the 
eight days I can be in Rome. Sec! it is possible. Saint 
Peter' s day is the 23rd of June. I can leave Paris on 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 159 

the 12th for Lyon, and reacb Marseille the loth, whence 
a steamboat takes you in forty-eight hours to Civita 
Veechia. I could stay eight or ten days in Rome with- 
out doing any harm to my affairs; for ail, doetors and 
somnambulists, are unanimous in beseeching me to 
balance a month's work by a month's amusement. Now 
tbere is notbing tbat takes me so out of my work as 
music and travel — in Paris no interest excite-s my soûl; 
I live in a désert; I ani, as it were, in a couvent; tbe 
heart is moved by notbing. Rome would be a grand 
and beautiful distraction if I were tbere alone, but 
witb you for cicérone wbat would it be! And tbis is 
not said from gallantry, à la, "charming Frencbman." 
No, it is said from beart to beart, to tbe woman of tbe 
Nortb, to tbe barbarian! 

1 bave broken witb everybody ; I was tired of grimaces. 
I bave but two unalterable friendsbips bere wbicb are 
true, and to wbicb I at times confide. Tben, I bave 
work into wbicb I fling myself daily. 

Tbis letter will still reacb you in Florence. It will 
tell you feebly my regrets, wbicb are boundless. Tbis 
beavy material life, wbicb I so largely escaped in 
Geneva, oppresses me hère. I tbirst for my liberty, for 
freedom, and if you knew what prodigies of will, what 
creating persistence is needed to secure no more than my 
twenty-four days in Jnne and July, you would say, like 
one of my f ri ends who has perceived a little of tbe 
intellectual working of my fnrnace (and you know more 
than a mère acqnaintance), that Napoléon never sbowed 
as mucb will, or as much courage. 

Wbat you bave written me abont Montriveau [in the 
"Duchesse de Langeais "] worries me, for you are a 
little epigrammatic, and it would be a great grief to me 
to be ill judged or misunderstood by you. You are the 
second person to whom I hâve shown my mind in its 
trutb. I like to let no one penetrate it, because if tbey 



1G0 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

do, what is tîiere to give to those we love? You did not 
mean to wound me, did you? 

I like your judgments on Florence and works of art 
much; and I woulcl greatly like, if you will be so good 
to your moujik, that you should study Rome, so tliat 
wlieu I corne I may not stop to look at bagatelles, but 
see in my eight days ail tbat there is of really Une, and 
good, and masterly, which goes to the soûl. Do not eay 
"Montriveau" to me again. Iiemember that I bave the 
life of the lieart and the life of the brain ; that I live 
more by sentiments than by tlie caprices of the miud; 
that I would rather feel than express ideas; and that 
neither way does wrong 10 the other. One needs a little 
intellect to love. 

1 write you as it cornes, without préméditation; for 
I must tell you that I am in the midst of "Los 
Chouans," whicli I am printing with extrême rapidity, 
causa metalli) to put an end to soine debts. But no 
matter! my scribbling will surely tell you that a loving 
thought follows you wherever you go, and that there is 
at a fireside near the Observatoire a poet who takes 
interest in your steps, is troubled by your cough, and 
made uneasy by Monsieur Ilanski's illness. I was 
already uneasy enough at receiving no letters from you. 
I belong to you like a moujik, and if M. Ilanski gives 
wheat to bis, you owe to me, moujik of Paulowska, a 
few straws of affection, hère and there. You might 
hâve written to me Ihree tintes since Turin. 

I will tell you nothing of my combats; J am occupied 
solely by n^ work and by a life which is also a work 
for me; not a poem, madame, but ail that there is of 
good and beautiful upoix this earth. Thus, everything 
hère, poli tics, mon, and things, seem to me very paltry 
beside what I feel in heart and brain. 

T am every day more grieved to bave been forced to 
abandon tG S n'aphita; " but in Rome it shnll be tlie work 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 161 

of my choice. It belongs to you and it ought to be clone 
beneath your eyes. 

Mon Bleu! if you are better, tell me so quickly. 
Throw into the post thèse words only: U I am," or 
"We are better." It is so good to see the writing, the 
painting, of a thought escaped f rom the lieart of a f riend ! 
You don't know how, in the evening, when I a m very 
weary, my castle in the air, my novel, my ovvn, is 
Diodati; but a Diodati without the déceptions of your 
novels ; a Diodati without bitterness in its dénouement. 
Of us two, am I indeed the younger and the one most 
full of illusions? There are days when I say tiyeuilles, 
laughing like a child, and those who take me for a grave 
m an would be stupefied. Corne, don't knock down my 
dreams, my castles. Let me believe in a cloudless sky. 
Since I exist I hâve lived by unalterable beliefs only, 
and you are one of those beliefs. Don't cough and look 
dark; may the troubles of spleen never corne either to 
you or to M. Hanski, to whom my letter is half ad- 
dressed; take it only as a talk full of affection. 

Our Exhibition has nothing regrettable. M. Hanski 
would not hâve bought much there; but if I were rich I 
should like to send you one picture, an Algiers interior, 
which seems to me excellent. Borget is preparing for 
his journey; you will see him in Venice perhaps, for he 
moves slowly. 

I beg of you, madame, tell me whether, according to 
this new arrangement, we can meet in Rome ; for I begin 
to perceive that I am writing to you to know that. You 
would be very good if you would forment M. Hanski in 
order to obtain it. In the first place, if you forment 
him you will amuse him ; you will substitnte for 
his blue devils reaî annoyances; next, you will cre- 
ate a little conjugal drama, in which you will be 
victorious; and it is so good to triumph, especially 
over a husband. 

il 



102 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

\Yell, once more adieu. To ail thosc wno are neaï 
you give the remembranees of a poor workman in leiters, 
wlio subscribes himself your aiïectionate, your wholly 
devoted servant and friend, 

IloxoRi': de Balzac, 

I am reading over your letter 1o see if I bave forgottcn 
anything. No; I îiave answered ail, and only omitted 
to tell you one thing, because it is loo daily: it is tliat I 
press, across space, the pretty liant! you hold ont to me 
so graeiously, and wish a thousand pîcasures to your 
caravan. 

À hlentot in Borne; for work, alasî will make me 
consume the time with tcrrifying rapidity. Adieu, 1 can- 
not quit my peu any better than I cou kl qnit your housc 
in Geneva. 

You chose to iangh, à Ar Française, at m y "bcautiful 
marquise, whose Une eyes make me die of love." I will 
play the Frenchman and tell you to turn that speech 
round, except as to the beauty of the eyes. Fie! it is 
n ot nice to be always showing me the rock on which my 
vanity was wrecked. Corne, admit that you hâve not 
bcen frank, or it will be the ground of a quarrel in 
liome — if one couid quarrel with you on meeting again. 

Taris, May 10, 18-34. 

I havc this moment rcccived, madame, your letter of 
April 110. Àlas! I hâve buried my hopes of the Rome 
trip. It always costs me horribly to renounce an illu- 
sion; ail my illusions seem to be one and inséparable. 

I hâve but a moment to ans-ver you, for in order that 
y on may get this letter before you leave Florence, on 
the 20th, it must be posted to-day, and it is now twelve 
o'clock. Yon do not tell me where you are going. Js 
it to Milan? What will l)e your address? IIow long 
shall you stay? I could see you thero if I went with 



1834] Letters to Madame SansJca. 163 

Borget. But at any rate, in September, at Vienna. 
That is more reasoDabîe. 

Mon Dieu! yes, the advice you give is impossible to 
follow. With the certainty of risk, I risk myself. 
There are do thanks worthy of the kindness you show in 
speaking to me so frankly of what I do; and you will 
not know, except in course of years, how grateful I am for 
this frankness. Do not be afraid ; go on, blaming boldly. 

You tell me to go to Gérard' s; hâve I the time? 
Time melts in my Angers. To bring to an end my 
crushing liabilities I hâve undertaken a tragedy, in 
prose, called, "Don Philippe et Don Carlos." It is the 
old subject of Don Carlos already treated by Schiller. 
Ail must march abreast; the little literature of copper 
coins, the puerilities, the studies of manners and morals, 
and the great thoughts that are not understood, — " Louis 
Lambert," "Séraphita," "César Birotteau," etc. 

My life is always the same. I rise to work, I sleep 
little. Sometimes I let myself go to gentle rêveries. 
Since I last wrote to you, I hâve had but one récréation; 
I heard Beethoven' s symphony in C minor at the Con- 
servatoire. Ah! how I regretted you. I was alone in 
a stall — I alone! It was suffering without expression. 
There exists in me a need of expansion which toil 
beguiles, but which the first émotion brings to the sur- 
face like a gush of tears. Yes, I am alone, deplorab.y 
alone. To find happiness I need the evening hour, si- 
lence, not work, but solitude and my inmost thoughts. 

Write me quickly wiiere I shall send you "Les 
Chouans," which will appear on the 15th, five days 
hence. Florence will certainly see me; you hâve been 
happy there. 1 shall go and pick up your thoughts in 
seeing those beautiful places, those noble works. I am 
only jealous of the illustrious dead: Beethoven, Michel 
Angelo, Raffaelle, Poussin, Milton, — ail that was ever 
grand, noble, and solitary stirs me. 



164 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

Ail is Dot said about me yet; I am only at the little 
détails of a great work. "When a m an lias undertaken 
what I hâve to do. — ah! madame, permit me to contide 
this to y our heart, — it is impossible to fall into the petty 
and base intrigues of this world; sentiments ought to be 
as great as the works désire to be great. My ambition 
is even stronger on the side of sentiments than it is for 
a famé wilich, after ail, shines only upon graves! So, I 
live alone, more alone than ever; nothing drags me 
from my contemplations: to love and to think, to act 
and to meditate. To develop a!l one' s strength on two 
great things, — work and the richest émotions of the soûl, 
— what can one ask more than that? A drop of friend- 
ship, a little sunshine; to press a hand by which we can 
support ourselves. 

Your advice upon my writings proves to me that on 
one point you hâve crowned my ambition. I would that 
I could send into your soûl by this paper the émotions 
of pleasure your letter bas caused me. But that is 
dillicult. 

So I cannot see you again mit il Vienna! Till then I 
shall not listen again to the only person who lias made 
me hear a language completely poetical and largely 
gênerons. I must stop, for you will take truth for 
liattery. What a hindrance is writing; Iioav often one 
look lias more meaning than ail words. Well, you will 
divine whatever I think that is good, and ail that time 
pre vents me from saying. You will tell yourself that it 
is impossible for a solitary man — a man often crushed 
by work and lost in Paris — not to think, every day, of 
persons who love him truly; you will know that I am 
occupied vvith you, and am gathering for you those 
autographs. 

Mon Dieu ! what a number of things to tell you ! How 
the Academy wanted to give the ]\rontyon prize to tlie 
"Médecin de campagne," and what I did to avoid being 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 165 

put in the compétition, — as many applications ancl pro- 
ceedings were needed as the other competitors made to 
obtain the prize. And about my tragedy, and my other 
works in handî But it is very ditiicult not to forget 
one's self in thinking of you. 

If you go to Milan, if you stay some time, if I can 
go and say bonjour to you for a few days, tell me; for 
from the 20th to the 30 th of June I should be very glad 
of an object for a trip, and I know none that would give 
me such keen happiness. I will inquire about Bartolini; 
but I see plainly you do not know our sculptors. In the 
Exhibition there was a statue of Modesty which might 
crush the antique; in sculpture we hâve great talents 
that are real. You like Bartolini, so I will like him, 
and I will make Gérard like him. But you think no 
longer of Grosclaude; do you know that your admira- 
tions hâve something which might alarm any other heart 
than a sincerely friendly one? 

You hâve shown such exquisite feeling for my poor 
"Chouans " that, to make it less unworthy of you and 
me, I hâve delivered myself up to patient toil such as 
my printer alone bas an idea of. You will reread the 
book in Milan, no doubt. The third Part of the "Études 
de Mœurs" will not be ready before the first days of 
June. I should much like to hâve Susette take them to 
you from the author, who would then solicit an audience 
and recover from the fatigues of the journey through the 
hope of seeing you. 

Alas! I hâve such business on hand that the devil and 
his horns could not get away. But I am a three-horned 
démon, of the race, rather degenerated, of Napoléon. 

A thousand gracious thoughts and memories. Find 
hère ail that you can wish in a heart full of gratitude 
and dévotion. 

What! will you really be in Vienna in July? So 
soon! Thèse distances placed between us seem to me 



166 Honoré, de Balzac. [1834 

like farewells. But I shall go to Germany in September. 
I slia.ll arrive rieh witli some successes; whieh please 
me now only because you take an interest in them; 
y ou make theui more essential to me for tliis reason. 

Well, hère is the hour. 1 do not know where to 
write to you, but I shall write ail the same, and when 
your new box cornes 1 will send it to you, There is no 
lake at Vienna, thercfore give me the hope of seeing the 
Lago Maggiore Avith you, At Vienna 1 shall do my 
reconnoitring on the Danube, in order to paint the baille 
of Wagram, and the fight at Essling, whieh are to be my 
work during the eoming winter in the Ukraine, if you 
will hâve me. But I must also see the countries through 
whieh Prince Eugène marched from Italy across the 
Tyrol. 

Adieu, adieu, you whom one does not like to leave. 
You know as well as 1 ail that 1 think, and you must be 
kind enough to give expression to my sentiments to 
your travelling companions. Oh! how I wish 1 could 
bave seen with you the city of flowers! 

Pakis, June 3rd — June 21, 1834. 

I have this moment reeeived, madame, the last lettcr 
you did me the honour to write to me from Florence; I 
hope, therefore, that this one will lind you in Milan in 
time to prevent false hopes, as you are so kind as to 
interest yourself in my excellent Borget. Ile is still at 
Issoudun, and will take Italy by way of the Tyrol, 
beginning by both banks of the Rhine; therefore lie will 
have no chance of meeting you. 1 a m sorry. His is 
one of those fine soûls one needs to know in order to 
judge of m an and have some ideas cf the future. 

1 myself renounce with sorrow the pleasure I had 
planned, of bidding you good-ùay in ^lilan, You put 
such grâce and urgency into your inquiries as to my 
situation that I caunot help speaking of it to you after 



1834] Lctters to Madame HmisJca. 167 

summing it up for myself. I still owe six thousand 
ducats [sixty to eighty thousand francs] ; tbis will be 
compréhensible to you if turned into your currency. 
Between now and the last of October, I must pay off two 
thousand. The remaining four thousand are owing to 
my mother. But until the end of October I hâve five 
hunclred ducats to pay monthly; and since my return 
from Geneva my pen and my courage bave sufliced until 
now to pay that sum. If by the end of September J am 
free, I shall bave doue marvels. But until then neither 
truce nor rest. My tranquil, joyous winter must be won 
at this cost. The doctor thinks well of the Baden 
waters. This is my situation. 

For the last two months I bave worked night and day 
at the work you honour witJi your préférence. You bave 
h ad much influence on my détermination relating to 
that work ["Les Chouans"]. In the désire to make it 
worthy of your friendship I hâve re-made it. It is not 
y et perfect, because, ' absorbed in the faults of the 
ensemble, I hâve let pass faults of détail and several 
mistakes. But, such as it is, it may now bear my name 
and you can avow your charitable protection. It bas 
needed a courage no one will give me crédit for; but the 
secret of my persévérance and my love for this work bas 
been in my désire to be agreeable to you, and to deserve 
one of those approbations which intoxicate me with 
pleasure, and to hear from your lips, when I hâve shaken 
off the enormous weight of my troubles, that the work 
pleases you. I shall send it to Florence to M. Borri, 
requesting him to forward it to you in Milan; and I 
shall also send it to Trieste, so that this poor first flower 
may be certain to receive your friendly gîances. I bave 
been delighted with it, and I hâve let myself be per- 
suaded that you are right in liking it. I bave tried to 
justify your préférence. Marie de Verneuil is mucih 
finer, and the work bas been well cleaned up; but, as the 



108 Honore de Balzac [1834 

printer said to me: "It is not forbidden to put Lutter 
ou spinaeh," — a saying wortliy of Charlet. 

Great news! Pichot is dismissed from tlie "Revue 
de Paris;" I return there with several peeuuiary advan- 
tages, which will help me to g et free. "Séraphita" 
serves me to re-enler with great éclat. The work lias 
surprised Parisians. Wlien tlie last uumber appears I 
shaii add a letter of oivoi to you, in whieh you will fmd 
tlie (iedieation, which I shaii try to niake wortliy of you, 
simple and grand. Il was not put in tlie heginning because 
I did not wish to dedieate to you a book not finisiied. 

Ilere is a whole long monib Huit î bave worked to 
pure loss on ni y third l > ai , t. 1 ain dissatisfied, vexed 
with what I do. Nevertheless, you will iind it at Trieste. 
I mus! make a composition in tlie style of "Eugénie 
Grandet," to suslain Ibis Part [of tbe Etudes de Mœurs.] 

My affairs are, at tbis moment, coinplicated by a 
transaction J hâve ])roposed to M. Gosselin, to annul our 
contracts, which will require six tbousand francs in casb 
paid to liini, for which lie will return m y agreements. 
Tbat point obtainpd, J sball liave no engagements except 
with INïadame l>>bet; and by three montbs of great 
labour I could, by tbe end of September, take tlie road 
to Germany, poor, but without anxieties, carrying my 
tragedy to do, and idleness to enjoy near you. If you 
knew wbat cares, debates, labours were necessary to 
reacb tbis resuit! T>ut wbat hnppiness to recover liberty, 
wbat pleasure to do wliat one likesî 

Spacbmann is no longer Coquebin. By my efforts, 
and tlmse of my sister, lie bas just married a young and 
pretty girl wiio will bave some fortune. Siie brings him 
five bundred ducats, which make lu" m ricb, and sbe bas 
four tbousand more in expectation. Mademoiselle Borel 
was qui te wrong ; hère 's a happy man made. I thought" 
of you in marrying tbis poor binder, about wliom we 
laugbed and taîked at your iireside in Geneva. 



1834] Letters to Madame ITanska. 169 

The greatest sorrows hâve overwhelmed Madame de 
Berny. She is far from me, at Nemours, where she is 
dying of lier troubles. I cannot write you about them ; 
they are things that can only be spoken of ear to ear. 
But I ara ail the more alone, deplorably alone, — as 
much alone, that is, as I can be, for treasures are in my 
thought during the hours of repose and calmness which J 
take with delight. Ail is hope for me, because ail is 
belief. 

If you knew how much there is of you in each re- 
written phrase of the " Chouans"! You will only know 
it when I can tell you in the chimney-corner at Vienna, 
in some hour of calm and silence when the heart has 
neither secrets nor veils. 

The correction of the second édition of "Le Médecin 
de campagne " draws to a close, and I am half-way on 
with the third dizain, ■ — so that I now am driving abreast 
nine volumes. My life is sober, silent, self-contained. 
Nevertheless, a lady has crossed the s traits and written 
me a beau ti fui letter in Englisli, to whicli I hâve answ T ered 
that I only understand French, and that I respect ladies 
too much to give it ont for translation. The affair 
stopped there. I received a letter from Madame Jeroslas 
. . . , delightful in style and quite surprising. I hâve 
not y et repli éd. 

Those are ail the events of my life since I wrote you 
last. 

"Philippe le Réservé" is put aside. Nevertheless, 
the literary world is very curious about. my play. In 
reply to what you deign to w r rite me about it, I must tell 
you that Carlos w T as so deeply in love with the Queen 
that there is suilicient proof that the child of wbich she 
died pregnant ("treated for drops}*, foi- God took pi ty 
'on the throne of Spain, and blinded the doctors," says 
the sensitive Mariano) was the Infant' s. So in my 
play the Queen is guilty, according to received ideas. 



170 Honore de Balzac. [IS34 

Carlos idem; Philippe IL and Carlos are fooled by 
Don John of Austria. I conforin to history and follow 
it step by step. Ilowever, accoiding to ail appearanec, 
this work will be donc under your eye, for it is the only 
thing that can bc doue while travelling, and you shall 
then judge of the politieal deptus of that awfui tragedy. 
It needs a lead wcll guarded by ropes to gauge it! Two 
of my friends are ardently runimaging historieal manu- 
scripts that I may miss nothing. I want to obtain even 
the plans of the palace and the rules of étiquette of the 
Spanish court under Philippe 11. 

MM. Berryer and Fitz-James wish to hâve me nomi- 
nated for deputy, but they will fail. The matler will be 
decided within a nionth, and you will know it, no doubt ? 
at Trieste. If I were nominated J should hâve myself 
ordered to Baths, for the portfolio of prime minister 
would not induce me to renounce (lie dear use I mean io 
make of the first moment of liberty I hâve ever won in 
my life. 

The farther I go on, the higher is llie idéal I form 
of true happiness. For me, a happy day is more than 
worlds. AVhen I want to give myself a magnifieent 
fête I slmt my eyes and lie down on a sofa, and absorb 
myself in remembering the silly things I said to you 
with my pa'ole <Pnnrâ panacher, 1 beside the Lake of 
(leneva, and I go over again that good day at Diodati, 
which effaced a thousand pangs I had felt tiieî'e a year 
before. You hâve made me know the différence between 
a true affection and a simulated affection, and for a 
heart as childlike as mine there is cause therc for eternal 
gratitude. 

Yesterday I went to sec my mother and found lier 

much changed, vei-y ill and qui te resigned. I hâve been 

sad ever since. In settli ng and clearing up oui- accounts 

a fortnight ago she fretted greafly about what would 

1 Fashionaltlo spoccli of the " Incrjn ahlos." — Tk. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 171 

happen to me if she died, and tbat constant foresight 
pained me. Yesterday I was far more sad. She is 
very good to me. She has sent for me, but to-day I 
cannot go because I a m expecting an arbitrator to whom 
I must explain the Gosselin affair. But to-morrow I 
shall go quickly. 1 hâve now only fifteen days in which 
to do a volume which is impatiently demanded, and 
never did I hâve less warmth of imagination. 

June 20. 

You are at Milan. I ara not thereî This letter, 
begun seventeen days ago, has remained unfinished by 
force of circumstances. In the first place, the return of 
my brother from the West Indies with a wife (was it 
necessary to go five thousand miles to fmd a wife like 
that?); then annoyances, vexations without number, 
besides w T ork. The publisher of "Les Chouans" has not 
paid me. Hère I am, with notes falling due. Then, M. 
Gosselin demands ten thousand francs, nearly a thousand 
ducats, to break our contract; I am trying to find them. 
But the greatest misfortune is this: after much trouble I 
had succeeded in fmding a subject for my third Part; 
but after doing lia If a volume I flung it into the box of 
embryos, and hâve begun anew with a grand, noble, 
magnificent subject, which will give you, I hope, both 
honour and pleasure. According to my ideas, and 
according to my critics, it is above everything else. 
But I hâve had to make up for lime lost. Ahî madame, 
what hours of despair and terrible insomnia between 
the ord and the 20th of June. There must hâve been 
sympathy ! 

Believe in me, I entreat you. "Whether you go to 
Vienna or to Wierzchownia, my winter is destined to 
you. I want to flee Paris; I want absolutely to dig ont 
in silence my Philippe II. You will see me arrive with 
the rapidity, the fidelity of a swallow. 



172 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

I shaîl go, in July, to Nemours to write, aw r ay from 
Paris, wbicb is intolérable in summer, my i'ourth and 
fifth Parts of the "Etudes de Mœurs." If I can end 
them in September I sball make untold efforts to get tbe 
last printed by tbe beginning of November. Perbaps 
you will still be in Vienna tbe first fifteen days of tbat 
inontb. I would like to know your itinerary, for I sball 
take, as soon as I can, lifteen days' liberty, and sball 
go, naturaily, to tbe eountry you are in. 

I send to-day, to Trieste, tbe "Cbouans" for you, 
and tbe second édition of tbe "Me'decin de campagne 7 ' 
for Monsieur Hanski, as you bave yours. I will send 
my tbird Part later, for I am very impatient to bave 
your opinion about tbis new production. Wben "Séra- 
pbita" is'ïinisbed I will bring ber to you, bound by tbe 
busband of tbe pretty girl of Versailles. You will see 
be bad not tbe beart to continue Coquebin to do tbat 
savage binding of clotb and salin. But if I could know 
bow long you stay at Trieste, I could leave bere July lOth 
and be at Trieste tbe lGtb, see you for tbree days, and 
get back again. I bave a tbousand tbings to bring you; 
tbe eottf/nac, tbe perf urnes, and tutti quanti, 

I sball end tbis letter by saying: à bientôt. Tbe bope 
of crossing many countries to tind you at tbe end of tbe 
journey gives me courage. I work, now, twenty con- 
sécutive bours. Well, I must bid you adieu, saying, as 
gracefully as I can, tbat you are less a inemory to me 
tban a beart-tbougbt, and tbat you would be ver} 7 unkiiul 
to iling in my face forever tbat I am a Frencbman. 
Pemember, madame, tbat I am a Coquebin wbo does not 
marry, or at least onïy marries witb tbe Muses. I bave 
been alarmed by rcading in Hoffmann (article on Vows) 
a severe judgment on Polisli women; still, I bad, to tell 
tbe trutb, a pleasurable evening in tbinking tbat tbe 
article w^as true for you in ail tbat w r as rlattering, and 
false in ail tbat was. cruel. 



7 834] Letters to Madame Ha?iska. 173 

Our poor Sismondi bas been roughly demolisbed (the 
word is true) in the "Revue de Paris" of last Sunday. 
His "Histoire des Français" bas been rased, destroyed 
— from garret to cellar. 

Poor Madame de Castries is going away, dying, and 
so dying tbat I biame myself for not baving been tbere 
for a montb, for tbose infamous Parisians bave deserted 
ber because sbe suffers. What a sad sentiment is tbat 
of pity. Tberef ore ! — Ab ! 

Friday, 21. 

I bave been for several days sad and distressed. I did 
not tell you tbis yesterday. Tbe post bour went by, and 
I kept tbis letter. Yes, I bave failed in bope, I wbo 
live only by bope, tbat noble virtue of tbe Christian life. 
"Le Médecin de campagne " reappears to-morrow. Wbat 
will be its fate? 

I bave been very bappy tbis morning; you could 
never, perhaps, guess why. I should bave to paint to 
you the state of a poor solitary who stays in bis cell, rue 
Cassini, and whose only rejoicing is in a tiny winged 
insect wbich cornes from time to time. Tbe poor little 
gleam was late in coming, and I was borribly afraid, 
saying to myself: "Where is sbe? Is anytbing amiss 
with ber? Sbe bas been eaten up!" At last the pretty 
little créature came. Once more I saw my bête à bon 
dieu, iridescent, a little mournful; but I put it on my 
paper and asked it, as if it were a person: "Hâve you 
corne from Italy? How are my friends?" 

You will take me for a lunatic — no, for I bave heart 
and intellect, and only trespass througb excess, not want, 
of sensibility. That is how a man who w r rote the 
"Treize" can weep with joy on again beholding tbe 
scales of his little insect. 

Well, adieu. I w T isb tbat you might hâve the same 
quiverings. That is only saying that one is still young, 



lli Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

that tbe beart beats strong, tbat life is beautiful, tbat 
one feels, one loves, and tbat ail tbe riebes of tbe eartb 
are less tban one liour of sensuous joy sueh as I bad 
wïtb my little insect. And, aîso, do you know bow nuieb 
of joy, amber, ilovvers, grâce of tbe eountries it liies 
tbrougb, tbat little créature can bring back? See ail 
tbat poesy can invent about a bête à bon dieu, and wbat 
lunatics are bermits and dreamersî 

Well, adieu; be happy on your journey; see ail tbose 
fine eountries well. As for me, I am furious at being 
nailed to tbis Jittle mahogany table, wbicb bas been so 
long tbe Avitness of my thoughts, sorrows, miseries, dis- 
tresses, joys — of ail! Tbus I will never give it except 
to — ■ But I will not tell you ail my secrets to-day. 

To-day I a m gay. I bave been so sad nearly ail tbis 
montb! Tbere are my beautiful bine rlowers in tbe 
barren iielda between tbe Observatoire and my window 
drooping tbeir beads. It is bot. Nevertbeless, if I want 
to see you tbis winter I must mind neitber weariness, nor 
beat, nor weakness. 

Would you believe tbat tbe second édition of tbe 

"Physiologie du Mariage" does not appear, tbat tbose 

men will not pay me, and tbat I sball bave anotber law- 

suit on my bands? Mon Jj'ica! wbat bave I doue to 

tbose fellows! 

Kiss Anna, on tbe forebead. Oh! bow I wish I were 
lier borse again. Offer my regards to M. Hanski. Put 
ail that is inost liowery in French .courtesy at tbe feet of 
your two companions, and keep for } T ourself, madame, 
whatever y eu will of my beart. 

Paris, July 1, 1834. 

Ah! madame, nature is avenging herself for my dis- 

dain of lier laws ; in spite of my too monastic life my 

hair is falling out by handfuls, it is whitening to tbe eye ! 

tbe absolute inaction of my body is making me fat beyond 



1334] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 175 

measure. Sometimes I remain twenty-five hours seated. 
No, you won't recognize me any more I The moments of 
despair and melancholy arc more fréquent. Griefs of ail 
sorts are not lacking to me. 

1 wrote tbree half-volumes before finding anything 
suitable for the third Part of the "Études de Mœurs.'' 
It will at last appear on the 20th of this month. (Be 
satisfied, it is not I who am elected deputy.) 

You will tell me, will you not? where I am to send my 
third Part. Do not deprive me of the happiness of being 
read by you, which is one of my rewards. I still hâve 
three months' arduous labour before me ; shall I finish 
before October? I don't know. I am likethe bird flying 
above the face of the waters and finding no rock on which 
to rest its feet. I should be unjust if I did not say that 
the flowery island where I could repose is in sight of my 
piercing eyes ; but it is far, far-off. 

I should like to write to you only good news ; but, 
although arranged, my compromise with M. Gosselin is 
not yet signed. I must find a thousand ducats, and in 
our book business nothing is so scarce ; for boolzs are not 
francs — and not always français ! 

I laugh, but I am profoundly sad. " La Recherche de 
l'Absolu" will certainly extend the limits of my réputa- 
tion; but thèse are victories that cost too dear. One 
more, and I shall be seriously ill. u Séraphita" lias cost 
me many hairs. I must find exaltations that do not corne 
at the cost of life. But that work which belongs to you 
ought to be my finest. 

Tell me to what Baths you are going, for it is possible 
if — if — if — that I may myself bring you various little 
things, such as a faultless new édition of the "Médecin 
de campagne," my third Part, and the manu script of 
" Séraphita," w T hich will be finished in August. Yes, 
stay at some place where I can go till September loth. 

If I compromise with Gosselin, I can free myself only 



176 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

by alienating an édition of the u Etudes Philosophiques." 
Thîit will be work added to work. In the total solitude 
in which J live, sighing after a poesy which is lacking 
to me and which you know, I plunge into music. I hâve 
taken a seat in a box at the Opéra, where I go for two 
hours every other day. Musie to me is memories. To 
lieîir iiiumc is to love those we love, better. Jt is thiuk- 
ing with joys of the sensés of our inward joys ; it is 
living beueath eyes whose lire we love ; it is listening to 
the beloved voice. So Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 
fi'Oin haif-past seven to ten o'elock, 1 love with delight. 
I\Iy thought travels. 

AVell, I mu.st say au recoir ; as soon as ni y compromise 
is made I will write to you about it in détail. Never 
lind fauit with my devoted friendship ; it is indcpendent 
of time and spaee. I think of you nearly ail day, and 
is not that natural? The only happy moments 1 hâve 
kuown for a year, moments when there was neither work 
nor the worries of material life, were eujoyed near you; 
1 think of you and of your wandering colony as one thinks 
of happiness, and since I left you I hâve lived only the 
burn'mg life of unfortunate artists. 

AVas M. Hanski gratihed by my attention? You shall 
hâve, madame, an édition for yourself ; an édition which 
1 shall try to make ravishing, and in which there will be 
a secret coque try. Ah! if i had had your features I 
would hâve pleased niyself in having them engraved as 
La Fosseuse. But though 1 hâve meniory enough for 
myself, I should uot liave enough for a painter. 

Day l)efore yesterda\-, I had a visit from Wolff, the 
pianist from Geneva. I could hâve thrown the house ont 
of Windows for joy. Was it not lie who asked me : 
u AVho is that admirable lady?" So the poor lad found 
me very cordial, very splendidly hospital)le. To sec him 
was to faney myself back in Pré-1'Evêque, ten steps from 
your house, and breathing the Grenevese air. 



is34] Letters to Madame Hanska. 177 

I hope to be able to write you more at length a few 
clays hence. I reserve to myself the right to write my 
tragedy at Wierzchownia. I hâve amused myself like a 
boy in naming a Pôle M. de Wierzchownia, and bringing 
him on the seene in the "Recherche de l'Absolu." That 
was a longing I could not resist, and I beg your pardon 
and that of M. Hanski for the great liberty. You 
could n't believe how that printed name fascinâtes me. 

What a good winter to be far from the annoyances of 
Paris, absorbed in a tragedy, struggling with a tragedy, 
laughing every evening with you and making the mas- 
ter laugh, for whom I '11 invent "Contes Drolatiques" 
expressly for him! If I hâve to get to you through 
driving snow-storms I sliali corne ! And after that, 
I '11 go to the Emperor Nicholas himself to obtain per- 
mission for you to corne to Paris and see the fiasco of my 
play ! 

Adieu, you who are seeing every day new countries, 
while I can see but one! 1 hope Anna is well, and that 
M. Hanski lias none of his black dragons, that Made- 
moiselle Borel smiles, that Susette sings, that Made- 
moiselle Séverine still retains her graceful indifférence, 
and you, madame, that vigorous constitution which is a 
principle of living joys ; but also of pains ; my désire 
is that God shall take ail sorrow from your cup. Do not 
forget to tell me where you will stay after Trieste. 

I send you a thousand flowers of the soûl and of 
affection. 

Paris, July 13, 1834. 

It is now a long time, madame, since I beheld your 
pretty writîng, and my solitude seems to me deeper, my 
toil more heavy. I gaze with a gloomy air at that box 
in which you sent me jujubes, which now holds my 
wafers. 

Are you in Venice? Are you at Trieste? Are you 
travelling? Are you resting? You see, I think of you, 

12 



178 Honore de Balzac. [1834 

and I do not want to waste ail tlie rêveries into whieh I 
plunge, so I send you one. Oh! I am so bored in Paris! 
Never did its atmosphère so vveigh upon me. I breathe 
in f ancy the air you breathe with an enthusiastie jealousy ! 
It is, they say, so light, it would suit my lungs so well. 
Mon Dieu! work is crushing me, and for ail hippogriff I 
hâve only tliat jujube-box and Anna' s dog-inkstand, poor 
little dear ! 

I am writing at tins moment a fine work, the "Re- 
cherche de l'Absolu; 5 ' I tell you notiiing about it; L 
want you to read it without bias, and with ail the fresh- 
ness of ignorance of its subject. Where will you be 
then? 

My business affairs are cursed. Notiiing cornes to a 
conclusion. That ambulating roast-bcef, into whom God 
lias thrown ail the thoughts that make for silliness, called 
Gosselin, stops us by petty things. Next Tuesday we 
may end the matter, perhaps; I will immediately writc 
to you. Put on one side thirty-seven thousand francs 
to pay, and on the other side twenty-eight francs' wortli 
of paper, a bottle of ink, and a few quill-pens I hâve just 
bought, and you will hâve an idea of my position, assets, 
and debts. To reach an equilibrium, I need iron health, 
not talent, but luclc in my talent. Six volumes more for 
the said Bêchet to pubîish, and twenty-iive 12mos for 
the first édition of the u Etudes Philosophiques "! After 
ail that is done, I shall hâve a few crowns left and 
" liberty on the mountain." AYhen I say on the moun- 
tain, I inean plain, for the Ukraine is, you say, a liât 
country, 

There are my affairs, madame. As for sentiments, 
they are, by reason of restraint, a thousand times more 
violent than you ever knew the m since you hâve cou 
sented to be my confidant. But that person would be 
very content if she knew ail that I hide from lier, for it 
is very diflicult to express sentiments that lie at the 



18341 Letters to Madame Haîiska. 179 

foottom of one's heart. They need, not only a tête-à-tête, 
but a heart-to-heart. Mingle with this fury of work a 
far la tfamore and a fury of business and a few good 
memories wliich corne to me when I listeu to good music 
— trying not to hear the Duke of Brunswick, who ger- 
mauizes in my box sometimes ; for this dethroned prince, 
being no longer a lion, makes himself a tiger with us. 
(You will not catch that poor joke if I did not tell y ou that 
our box is called the tiger box. Forgive the digression, 
but I know how you like to know ail the little détails of 
Parisian life.) 80 now you hâve an exact view of the 
meagre existence your moujik lives ; he is, for the rest, 
as virtuous as a young girl. The " Recherche de 
l'Absolu" will tell you that; "Séraphita" better still. 

Truly, I am writing with a gay pen, and I am sad; but 
my saclness is so great that I am afraid to send you the 
expression of it. I would sell my famé and ail my liter- 
ary baggage (if I had no debts) for the pebbles on the 
road to Ferney. If you would buy my books in bulk I 
would write them for you little by little, or tell them to 
you in the chimney-corner. Make M. Hanski buy a 
principality, for I should not like to be jester to an y 
but a prince; self -loves should be conciliated. You could 
give me such pretty caps and bells ! As for salary, I 
would take it in the laughs that would corne from your 
lips. But you would be expected to give me eulogies 
and lodgings, cakes and bells. No Barkschy; I make 
conditions. But a fool would hâve to hide his heart. 
Well, well, you would not want me. Mon Dieu ! how 
often in my life I hâve envied Prince Lutin! [Puck.] 

I wish you ail enjoyments of your journey. I must 
now go and finish a "Conte Drolatique" while you are 
getting into the carnage and saying, perhaps: "I did 
not think that this Frenchman whom I accused of levity 
on our way to the lake of Bienne was so sincère when he 
told me he was capable of attachment." Ah! madame, 



180 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

poor men liave only a heart, and they give it; I am a 
poor m an, a manu al labourer who works in phrases as 
others carry a hod. 

If I were free, I sliould batbe to-night in the Adriatic, 
and tJieu go and tell you some joyous taie, review tbe 
ducal bouses in the "Almanach de Gotha," or play 
patience. You made me adore patience — and I live by 
patience. But I drudge, I sulïer much. 

Paris, July 15, 1834. 

I wish you to find this letter on your arrivai in 
Vienna. Day before yesterday I posted a letter to you 
in Trieste, and teh minutes later your good long letter 
frorn Trieste came. Ah! that, indeed, is writingî That 
is making some one happy! Poor Alphonse Royer, 
who wrote " Venez ia la bella," did not tell me in two 
volumes what you hâve told me about Venice in two 
pages. I said to a f ri end who came in just as I was 
putting your letter into the pretty box l hâve had made 
to hold the m, — for to me your letters are beings, fairies 
which bring me a thousand delights; I am dainty for 
my fairy-letters, — -I said to him: "We are ninnies, we 
who think we can write. We ought to kiss the slippers 
of certain women, the side where the slippers touch the 
ground, for within, none but the angels are worthy of 
that!"' 

Tlianks for your letter; how many things I want to 
answer and must put off to another day, not wishing to 
speak now, except of things I hâve much at heart. 

You hâve not understood me about "Séraphita." I 
déclare to you that I hâve more jealousy of heart than 
you accuse me of; for if, after promising me a testi- 
monial of friendship, you were to forget it, I should 
suffer in ail that is most sensitive in heart and soûl and 
body. Therefore, I wanted to avoid the same suffering 
to you by explaining that the envoi would be in the last 



1834] Letters to Madame Hamka. 181 

article, to make my happiness the more transcendant. 
Tbat last chapter, the "Transfiguration," is to me what, 
in its own clegree, the picture was to Raffaelle. Leave 
me the right to put your name upon my picture at the 
moment when the almost gigantic conception of that 
work is about to be comprehended. But, after reading 
your letter, 1 think there was conceit in my thinking you 
would surfer. Basta ! I will say no more about it. 

The second number of "Séraphita" has been, for three 
weeks, in the printing-ofhce, and I hâve worked ten 
hours a day upon it. 1 will send you the whole of it to 
Vienna, addressed to M. Sina. It will ail be out by the 
end of September. 

Another quarrel. I would rather be happy in a corner 
than be Washington in France, seeing that we hâve 
dozens of Washingtons in every street. That means 
that I would rather be at Wierzchownia in January than 
sputtering politics in the tribune of the Palais-Bourbon. 
This is by way of answer to your sublime retrocessa, 
when you wish to efface yourself behind France. As for 
me, I efface France beneath your sublime forehead. 
France, madame, is never short of great orators, great 
ministers, and great men in everything. 

Well, the Gosselin affair is signed; I a m quit to-day of 
that nightmare of foolishness. The illustrious Werdet 
(who slightly resembles the illustrious Gaudissart) buys 
from me the first édition of the "Études Philosophiques," 
■ — twenty-five 12mo volumes, — in five Parts, each of five 
volumes, to appear, month by month, August, Septem- 
ber, October, November. You see that to carry this 
through, and do three Parts of the "Études de Mœurs," 
still due to Madame Bêchet, requires Vesuvius in the 
brain, a torso of iron, good pens, quantifies of ink, not 
the slightest blue devil, and a constant désire to see, 
in January, Strasburg, Cologne, Vienna, Brody, etc., 
and to fioht with snow-drifts. I do not mention that 



182 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

bagatelle called health, nor that other bagatelle called 
talent. 

Now you know the programme of m y life, and if I bad 
a ladtj of my thoughts you must own s lie would be much 
to be pitied, unhappy woman! Fortunately, sbc is, very 
sadly, the lad y of my thoughts only; and J know she is 
very joyf ul to iind me liindered. 

For ail this fine work M. YVerdet is to give me fifteen 
thousand francs, and whatever of glorification I can 
catch above the bargain. Tliis, joined to the rest of 
the "Etudes de Mœurs," will free me entirely, and leave 
me with a few crowns, which are in tliis low world, the 
wings on which we fly o'er dislances. 

Do you know why I am so gay that thcre is gaiety 
in my grumblings? It is that I hâve seen once more the 
pretty little scribble of your writing; that I know you 
to be, except for the sulïerings of travel, perfectly well, 
and Anna too. 

Adieu, a thousand tender feelings of the heart. Ah! 
be reassured. Madame de . . . insists that she lias 
never loved any one but M. de M ... , and that she 
loves him still, that Artemisia of Kphesus. This even- 
ing T sny good-bye, at Liszt's, to Wolff, that young face 
from Geneva — wdiere I was so young! 

When you w T rite to me from Yienna, tell me, I entreat 
you, how long you stay. Something tells me that I 
shall see Vienna with you; that menus that I shall like 
Yienna. You must tell me what the Germons think of 
"Séraphita." You will reçoive, in Yienna, the third 
Part of the " Études de JVIdMirs," which leaves hère, 
addressed to M. Sina (mon Dieu! how I do like that 
naine!), about the end of this month. So you will hâve 
it during the first ten days of August. 

A thousand tender regards. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 183 

Paris, July 30, 1834. 

Oh! m y angel, my love, my life, my happiness, my 
strength, my treasure, my beloved, wbat horrible re- 
straint! wbat joy to write to you beart to beartî what 
shame to me if you do not lind thèse Unes at tbe time 
and place! I bave been into tbe country for six days to 
finish something in a huny. 

Oh une, I cannot start for tbe Baths of Baden before 
August 10; but I will go like tbe wind; it is impossible 
to tell you more, for to be able to go tbere needs giant 
efforts. But I love you with superbuman force. 

8o from tbe lOth to the 15th I shall be on tbe road. I 
sball bave only tbree or four days to myself, but I bring 
you tliat drop of my ardent life with a happiness which 
the infinité of heaven can alone explain. 

Mon Dieu ! w r hat hours f ull of you, of w r hich you hâve 
only presentiments! How I hâve followed you every- 
where! How I havç, at ail hours, desired you! Yes, 
my chéri shed Eve, my celestial flower, my beautiful life, 
stay at the Baths till September. If it takes eight days 
to get tbere, and I leave hère August 15th, I sball only 
arrive on the 23rd, and I must be bere for the iirst days 
in September. Ail dépends on my work and my pay- 
ments. The désire to be free, to be yours, bas made me 
undertake tîiings beyond my strength. But my love is 
so great; it sustains me. 

Your "Soraphita" is beautiful, grand, and you will 
enjoy that work in tbree months. I need three months 
for the last cbapter; but perhaps I will finish it near 
you. You warmed up my heart for tbe first; you ought 
to hear the last song! 

Oh! dear, dearest adored one, tell yourself well that 
the love you hâve inspired in me is the infinité. Hâve 
neither fear nor jealousy. Nothhig can destroy the 
charm under which 1 wish to live. Yes, tbere bave been 
many melancholies, many sadnesses: I was a displanted 



184 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

tree. To see y ou in August restores to nie happiness 
and courage. 

Now, to corne to Baden I must bring oui in the 
"Revue de Paris" "Le Cabinet des Antiques," of which 
you know tbe beginning. To work to go to see 3 T ou, 
ob, wbat enjoyment! Tbere is no work, tbere is joy in 
every line. 

Did you receive tbe "Chouans" at Trieste? But you 
cannot answer me. You will receive tbis August 8 in 
Vienna, and tbe lOtb I sball start. Wbat are Neufcbâtel 
and Geneva in comparison witb Baden? Were tbere six 
montbs of desires, of repressed love, of works written 
in your name, ob, my life, m y tbougbt? One must Le 
strong to sustain a joy so Joug awaited. Ob, yes, be 
alone! 

It is impossible to write you a long letter; it would 
take a day more, as I only arrived tbis morning, and I . 
feared tbat Marie de V r erneuil migbt not find it and be 
vexed witb him wbo adores ber as an angel loves God. 
To be separated from you by only eigbteen days; it is 
ail, and it is notbing. Your little letter bas made me 
crazy. It will be a great imprudence to go to Baden, 
for I bave a tbousand ducats to pay in September, but 
to see you one day, to kiss tbat idolized forebead, to 
smell tbat loved bair, wliicb I wcar about my neck, to 
take tliat band so full of kindness and love, to see you! 
tbat is wortb ail glories, ail fortunes. If it were not 
upon us, upon a longer time of séparation tbat tbis folly 
falls, it would not be a folly, it would be quite simple. 

Dear angel, do you know wbat happiuess tbere is for 
me in tbese eigbteen days, and tbe journey, won JJlev ! 
I adore you nigbt and morning, I send you ail tbe 
tbougbts of my soûl, I surround you witli my beart, — 
do you feel notbing? And my sufferings in not going 
to Florence, in short, I will tell you ail. 

Dear angel, be bappy if tbe most ardent love, tbe 



1834] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 185 

most infinité that man eau feel, is tbe life you bave 
desired to hâve, give, receive. 

À bientôt, then. Oh! what a wordî Three or four 
days of happiness will make the months of absence 
more supportable. Oh ! my treasure, what an abyss for 
me is tenderness. You are the principle of this fright- 
ful courage. Will you love my white hairs? Every one 
is astonished that any one can produce what I produce, 
and says that I shall die. No; three days near you is to 
recover life and strength for a thousand years! 

Adieu; a thousand kisses. I hâve held this bit of 
vinca between my lips while writing. To thee, my 
white minette, and soon. A thousand tender caresses, 
and in each a thousand more ! l 

i This is the last of thèse odious and ridieulous letters. It belongs 
properly to the séries which ended Mardi 11, 1834. lu my opinion" it 
lias been eoncocted and placed under this date to convey the idea that 
it is one of the letters which Balzac mentions in hisletterto M. Haiiski 
of Septeinber 16 (see p. 199) ; and, furthermore, this is done with the 
intention of convincing the reader that the whole séries of forged let- 
ters (which are plainly identical in character with this letter) were 
written by Balzac. 

Putting aside, for a moment, the proofs of déception which I hâve 
produced, I must say in conclusion that I think no one of literary judg- 
ment will believe that the autlior of the " Comédie Humaine '"' wrote 
thèse spurious letters. 

From this date the letters go on in Balzac 's characteristic manner, 
— expansive, impulsive, boyisli at times, and too full, certainlv, of his 
debts and his troubles ; but with it ail is the strong underflow of a 
great and dauntless soûl allied to things pure and noble. The storv 
is tragic ; and not the least tragic part of it is the wicked présent 
attempt of degenerate men to dégrade a hero. 

I hère place a letter of the same date from Monsieur Hanski to 
Balzac, which will serve to show the sort of man he was, and how he 
regarded his own and his wife's friendship for Balzac. 

I now lcave the whole subject to the judgment of the reader. — Tu. 



186 Honore de Balzac. [1834 

Fkom M. IIanski to M. IIoxokk de Balzac. 

Vienna, Augujt 3, 1834. 

I bave just received, monsieur, tbe eopy of tbe 
"Médecin de campagne," — tbat one of your works 
wbicb I like best; tbe real merit of wbicb I could wish 
were felt and reeognized at ils just value. 1 allowed 
myself, soine finie ago, to write to you fully on tbe 
impression tbis book made upon me; tberefore ï will not 
return to it, but siuiply beg you to receive my tbanks 
for so precious a souvenir of your good friendsbip. 
My wife bas told you, no doubt, of tbe way I was taken 
in by tbe "Moniteur. " But expia in to us wbo your 
legitimist bomonym is wbo is made deputy from 
Yillefranehe? We tbougbt tbere was fou France, as foi- 
us, only one M. de Balzac; and, in tbat conviction, I 
was preparing a long letter of congratulation. In it I 
spoke of a certain cause [lie menus tbat of tbe Duchesse 
de Berry, then imprisoned at B'ayel, of which, knowing 
your gênerons beart, I boped to see you tbe ebampion. 
But, at tbe sweetest moment of thèse illusory dreams, 
my wife brougbt me your letter, and told me tbat you 
were not a deputy. Disappointed, î cursed tbe fatallty 
tbat présides over tbe things of tbis worîd ; I eonsigned 
my fine epistle to tbe liâmes, and tbe bine devils returned 
in troops to assail me. 

But adieu, monsieur; my wife is, no doubt, writing 
you a long gossip. More at tbis lime wouhl bore you. 
I tberefore end, assuring you of ail inv friendsbip. 

Yexceslas IIaxski. 

To Madame IIanska. 

Paris, Augnst 1 — Aumist 4, 1834. 

I bave received your letter, written from Vienna, 

madame. You bave probably received two from me, 

addressed to J. Collioud, witb tbe "Chouans " and tbe 

"Médecin de campagne." Distances are so little calcu- 



1834] Lotters to Madame Ha?iska. 187 

lable. I believe tliat up to tlie présent time I bave had 
such true sympathies tliat m y inspirations bave always 
been like tbose of my friends. I bave forgotten notbing, 
— neither Marie de Verneuil, nor your "Chouans," nor 
M. Iianski, who will bave bis "Médecin de campagne." 

I ani a little chagrinée!. Tbe imbéciles of Paris 
déclare me crazy in view of tbe second number of 
"Séraphita," whereas tbe elevated minds are secretly 
jealous of it. I ain worn out with work. Too mucb is 
too mucb. For tbree days past I bave been seized by 
unconquerable sleep, which shows tbe last degree of 
cérébral weariness. I dare not tell you what an effort I 
am making now to write to you. I bave a plumopbobia, 
an inkophobia, which amount to suffering. However, I 
hope to finish my third Part by August 15. It will bave 
cost me mucb. And for tliat reason I am afraid of some 
heaviness in tbe style and in tbe conception. You 
niust judge. 

Tbe "Cabinet des Antiques" will appear in tbe 
"Revue de Paris," between tbe second number of 
"Séraphita" and tbe last, for tbe "Revue" makes tbe 
sacrifice of holding tbe latter back till I can finish it. 
You know the beginning of tbe "Cabinet des Antiques." 
It made one of out good evenings in Geneva. 

Let M. Iianski console himself ; I shall be deputy in 
1839, and tben I can better, being free of ail care and 
ail Avorries, act so as to render my country some service, 
if I am worth anything. Between now and then I 
expect to be able to rule in European questions by 
means of a political publication. We will talk about 
that. 

I bave had many troubles. My brother made a bad 
marriage in the Indies, and the poor boy bas neither 
spirit, energy, nor talent. Men of will are rare! 

I shall go to see you in Vienna if I can get tw T enty 
days to myself; a pretty watch given at the right 



188 Honore de Balzac. [1834 

moment to Madame Bêebet niay win me a month's 
freedom. I am goiug to overwlielm lier with gifts to 
get pouce. 

I Juive many troubles, many worries. The kind M. 
Ilanski would not hâve his black bulterflies if lie were 
in my place. M y second line of opérations is now to be 
drawn ont. I shall hâve tlie lirst Part of the "études 
Philosophiques " printed within ten days. It will appear 
at the same time as the third Part of the "Etudes de 
Mœurs." There is but God and I, and the third person, 
who is never nanied, who are in the secret of thèse 
works which aft'right literature. I hâve sixty thousand 
volumes tliis year in the commerce of publishers, and I 
shall hâve earned seventy thousand francs. Ilencc, 
hatreds. But, alasî of those seventy thousand francs 
nothing will remain to me but the happiness of being free 
of ail debt after being ruined by it. 

Y ou are very fortunate, madame, to be able to take 
the Danube baths; but >\rite me soon if they are remov- 
ing those frightful nervous headacfies which frightened 
me so much. Do not suiïer. Préserve your health. 
When you walk, do not wear those little shoes that let 
in water, as they did the day we went to Ferney. 

T)o you know I feel a little vexed with you that you 
can think that a man who lias my faith and my tri// can 
change, after ail I hâve written to you. In the matter 
of money alone I do not do ail I would; but in what- 
ever belongs to the heart, to the feelings, in ail that is 
the man you can hâve few reproaches to make to me. 

Write me, very legibly, your addresses in Vienna 
and Baden, for I find it impossil)le to makc ont the 
uame of the hôtel where you are now. 

I am to see, some day soon, an illustrions Pôle, 
Wïonsky, great mathematician, great mystic, great 
mechanician, but whose conduct lias irregularities which 
the law calls swindling; though, if closely viewed, they 



2834] Letters to Madame lïansJca. 189 

are seen to be the effects of dreaclful poverty ancl a 
geuius so superior tbat one can hardly blâme bim. He 
lias, they say, one of tiie most powerful intellects in 
Europe. 

Monday, 4. 

I have been forcée! to interrupt my letter for a clay 
and a balf; I bave not bad two minutes to myself to 
collect my tbougbts. Tbere bas been a déluge of burried 
proofs and corrections; ouf! I beg you to recall me to 
tbe memory of ail wbo compose your caravan. 

Our Paris is very flat, very sad. MM. Tbiers and 
Rigny bave, tbey say, lost five millions at tbe Bourse, 
in conséquence of tbe invasion tbat Don Carlos bas 
made ail alone. Every one talks war hère, but no one 
believes in it. Tbe king bas dismissed Soult in order 
to remain at peace. 

Adieu. I hope, madame, tbat you will amuse yourself 
at tbe Baths, ancl gain health; but you must walk a 
little. My life is so monotonous tbat I can tell you 
little of myself tbat is wortb telling. One tbougbt and 
work, that is tbe life of your moujik. You — you are 
seeing countries, you bave tbe movement of travel whicb 
occupies and diverts. Ah! if I could travel, I would go 
to Moravia. 

Adieu. If you bear anytbing in tbe air, if a pebble 
rolls at your feet, if a light sparkles, tell yourself tbat 
my spirit and my heart are frolicking in Germany. 
Wbolly yours, 

Honoré. 

Pakis, August 11, 1834. 

Thank you, madame, for your good and amiable 
letter of tbe 3rd of this montb. Tbe envelope delighted 
me witb its hieroglypbics, in wbicb you bave put sucb 
religious ideas. 

I bave many answers to give you. But a tbousand 



190 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

million wafts of incense for jour ideas on "Philippe le 
Discret." You share m y sentiments on Schiller and niy 
ideas of what I ought to do. 

Oh! spend the winter in Vienna? I shall be there, 
yes — You hâve the bocks? Good. 

No, I see no one, neither man nor wonian. My iigrrs 
bore me; they hâve neither claws nor brains. Desides, 
I seldom go to the Opéra now. 

IIow sweet your letter isî with what happiness I hove 
read it! that description of your house, the flowers, the 
garden, your life so well arranged, even the blue devils 
on the watch for M. Ilanski. Thank you for ail the 
détails you give me. 

At the moment when 1 was reading the religions part 
of your letter, that where the good thoughts went to my 
heart, my Carmélite nims, who had opened the Windows 
of their chapel on account of the beat, began to sing a 
hymn which crossed our little street and my courtyard. 
I was strangely moved. Your writing gleamed in my 
eyes and softly entered my heart, more liviug than 
ever. This is not pocsy, but one of those realities that 
are rare in life. 

"La~ Recherche de l'Absolu " kills me. It is an 
immense subject; the fmest book I can do, say sorne. 
Alas! I shall not be through with it beforc the 2<)th of 
this month, in nine days. After that, I spread my 
wings and take a three weeks' furlougli, for my head 
cannot sustain another idea. On the 21st 7 shout: 
"Vive l'Almanach de Gotha!" God grnut that ien 
days later I présent to you myself the "Absolu." I 
will not tell you anything about it. That 's an author's 
coquetry, which you will pardon when you la} r down the 
book. 

My life, it is fifteen hours' toi], proofs, author's 
anxieties, phrases to polish; but, there 's a distant 
gleam, a hope which lights me. 



1834] Letlers to Madame Hanska. . 191 

At last, France is beginning to bestir itself about my 
books. Famé will corne too late; I prefer happiness. 
I want to be sornething great to inerease tbe enjoyments 
of the person loved. I can only say tbat to you. You 
understand me and you will not be jealous of that 
thougbt. 

Madame de Castries is dying; tbe paralysis bas 
attacked tbe other leg. lier beauty is no more; sbe is 
blighted. Oh! I pity ber. Sbe surfers borribly and 
inspires pity only. Sbe is the only person I go to see, 
and tben for one bour every week. It is more tban I 
reaiiy can do, but tbat bour is compelled by tbe sigbt 
of tbat slow deatb. Sbe lives witb a cataplasm of 
Burguudy pitcb from the nape of the neck to the loins. 
I give you thèse détails because you ask for them. 

So, constant labour, sundry griefs, the condition of 
Madame de Berny, w T ho, on lier side, droops her head 
like a rlower wben its calyx is beavy with rain. Sbe 
cannot bear up under her last sorrows. Never did a 
woman bave more to endure. Will sbe corne safely out 
of thèse crises? I weep tears of blood in thinking that 
sbe* is necessarily in tbe country, wbile I am necessarily 
in Paris. Great sorrows are preparing for me. That 
gentle spirit, that dear créature who put me in her heart, 
like the child sbe most loved, is perishing, while oui- 
affection (that of her eldest son, and mine) can do 
nothing to allay ber wounds? Oh! madame, if death 
takes this light from my life, be good and generous, 
receive me. I could think only of going to weep near 
you. You are the only person (Borget and Madame 
Carraud excepted) in whom I hâve found the true and 
sanctifying friendship. In case sbe dies, France would 
be horrible to me. Borget is away; Madame Carraud 
bas not, in herself, the féminine softness that one 
needs. Hers is an antique rectitude, a reasoning friend- 
ship wbich bas its angles. You/eeZ, you! 



192 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

Yes, I am overwbelmed by this sorrow which ap- 
proaches; and that divine soûl prépares me for it, so to 
speak, in the few Unes she is able to write to me. Yes, 
I hâve only your heart into which 1 eau shed the tears 
that are iu m y eyes while writing tliis in Paris. 1 I am 
horribly alone; no one knows the secrets of my heart. 
I suffer, and before others I smiie. Neither my sister 
nor my nrother eomprehend me. 

Thèse are sad pages. I hâve some hope. Mme. de 
Berny has such a rich constitution; but lier âge makes 
me tremble; a lierai so young in a body that is r.early 
sixty, that is, indeed, a violent contrast. She has 
dreadful inflammations between the heart and lungs. 
My hand, when I magnetize lier, increases the iniiamma- 
tion. AVe were obliged, thcrefore, to renounce that 
means of cure; for, as I wrote you, 1 was able to spend 
te n days with lier the last of July. Oh! be well your- 
self! you and yours! Let me not tremble for the only 
beings wlio are dear to me, for ail, at once! 

I needed your letter this morning, for this morning I 
received a letter from a mutual friend of Madame 
Bêchet and me, telling me of her commercial distresses. 
If my book is not ready to appear she wants compensa- 
tion for the delay; the "Absolu" ought to hâve been 
linished in two months! That irritated me. I was 
weeping with rage — for he does weep, this tiger ; lie 
cries ont, this eagie! — when your letter came. It feîl 
into my heart like dew. I blessed you. I clasped you 
like a friend. You serened me, you refreshed my soûl. 
Be happy. Shall I ever cause you a like joy? No, I 
shall always be your de))tor in this way. 

I hâve had other griefs. My Boileau [M. Charles 
Lemesle], my hypercritic, my friend, who judges and 
corrects me without appeal, lias found a good many 

1 Compare this with the shâmohil lettor supposée! to hâve been 
written about her to Mme. Ilanska, Jan. 18'Î4. Sec p. 112. — Tu. 



1834] Letters to Madame HansJca. 193 

blunders in the first two 12mo volumes of the "Médecin 
de campagne." That rnakes me desperate. However, 
we will take them out. The work shall, some day, be 
perfect. I was ill for two days after he sbowed me 
those blunders. They are real. We are wasbing up 
between us "La Peau de Chagrin." There must be no 
faults left on that édition. Add to ail this money 
anxieties, wbich will not leave me tranquil till January, 
1835, and there you bave ail the secrets of my life. 
There is one about which I do not speak to you. That 
one is the very spring of my life; it is my azuré heaven, 
my hope, my courage, my strength, my star; it is ail 
that one cannot tell, but it is that which you will divine. 
It is the oleander, the rose-bay tree, a lovely form 
adored beneath it, the twilight hour, a revery! 

Adieu; I return to my furrow, my plough, my goad, 
and I shout to my oxen, "Hue! " I am just now writing 
the death of Madame Claës. I write to you between 
that scène of sorrow entitled the Death of a Motber, and 
the chapter entitled, Dévotions of Youth. Remember 
this. Eemember that between thèse two chapters your 
greeting, your letter, full of friendship, came to give 
me back a little courage and drive away a thousand 
gloomy phantoms. There you were, shining like a 
star. 

The happy husband, no longer coqvebin Spachmann, 
wiîl bind the manuscript w r hich you must put with that 
of "Eugénie Grandet." As for that of the "Duchesse 
de Langeais," it has been dispersed, I don't know how. 
I am very careless about my manuscripts. You had to 
set a value upon them which made me proud, in order 
to make me keep them for you. So with those of 
"Séraphita," I am like a motber defending her young. 

Do you know what courage there is in calling one's self 
legitimist? That party is very abject. The three parties 
that divide France bave ail descended into the mud. 

13 



194 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

Oh! m y poor countryî I a m humiliated, unhappy at 
ail this. We shall rise ont of il, 1 hope. 

I send you no eomnionplaces. To tell you that I keep 
in réserve a thousand sincère and gentle, tender feelings 
would be nothing; a feebîe portion, indeed, of a friend- 
ship which makes me conceive of the infinité. May tlie 
Danube make you strong and give you health; I love 
the Danube betîer than I love the Seine. 

I hâve seen Prince Puckler Muskau hère, and he 
seemed to me a little Mephistophelian, sprinkled witii 
Yoltaireanism. Ile told me that I was mueh appreciated 
in Bei lin, and that if I went tliere — lia! ha! bravil 
brava! — But what I like in foreign lands is lîie good 
nonsense that 1 shall ttilk in the chimney-eorner of 7o 
Landstrasse. 

Adieu; distribute my friendship, regards, and remem- 
brances to those about you as you will. 

I'aei^, Atigust 20, 18,34. 

Yestcrday I had an inflammation of the brain, in con- 
séquence of my too liard work; but, by the merest 
chance, I was wifh my mot lier, who had a pliial of bel m 
tranquil, and l)athed m y head with it. I suffered hor- 
ribly for nine or ten hours. I a m better to-dny. The 
doctor wants me to travel for two months. My unfortu- 
nate affairs allow me only iwenty days. I hâve still ten 
days' work on tlie '"Recherche de l'Absolu," which lias, 
like "Louis Lninbeit," two years ago, very nearly 
carried me off. But on tlie Ist or 2nd of September I 
shall be on my way to see Vienna. Impossible to give 
myseîf n more agreeahle object for a journey. So, 
between the 7th and KHh, I shall hâve the pleosure, you 
will let me say happiness, of seeing you. 

No, I hâve had no more letters from } T our cousin. 
Something that I do not know must hâve made lier 
quarrel with me. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 195 

I think as y ou do od Lamennais' work, "Les Paroles 
d'un Croyant." I neaiiy got myself devoured for say- 
ing that f rom a literary point of view the form was mère 
silliness, and tbat Volney and Byron had already em- 
ployée! it, and that as to doctrines, they were ail taken 
from the Saint-Simonians. Really, tbose kings on a 
slimy, evil-smelling rock are only fit for ehildren. 

Adieu; you will be indulgent to a poor artist wbo 
rattles on with the intention of baving no thought, of 
being very boyisb, and desires only to let himself go to 
the one affection that never wearies: friendsbip and the 
sweetest tbings of the heart. Tbank M. Hanski in 
advance for bis good little letter. At tbis moment I 
bave no strengtb to write more than what I do hère. 
Tbat strengtb is what in the eighteenth century they 
would bave called "force of sentiment." 

I a m so glad to know tbat you are well lodged and 
pleased with your bouse. 

Paeis, August 25, 1834. 

I may bave alarmed you, madame, but Madame de 
Berny is better. Sbe is not recovered, however. No, 
she remains in a condition of cruel weakness. 

Two days ago I wrote that I should start for Germany ; 
but tbat was folly, for it takes ten or twelve days to get 
to Vienn a, as much to return, and I bave but twenty to 
dispose of. No, it is not possible in the situation in 
which I am. "La Recberehe de l'Absolu" consumes so 
mnch time that I find myself in arrears in ail my deliv- 
eries of copy, consequently in ail my payments. 

On another hand, T cannot go witbout leaving the end 
of "Seraphita" for the "Eevne de Paris," and how can 
I détermine the time it will take me to finish that work, 
angelical to some, di aboli cal to me? 

Ail this worries me; I cannot hâve my liberty till the 
month of November, and tben will you still be in 



196 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

Vienna? Yes. But I sball bave only a montb to my- 
self, and tbe question will still be tbe same. 1 see 
bow it is; I must wail till '"Philippe II. is doue." 

I bave tbe weakness and tbe speeies of physical 
melaueboly tbat cornes from abuse of toil. Tbe life of 
Paris no longer suits me; and while 1 feel in my beart 
a véritable childhood, ail tbat is exterior is aging. I 
begin to understand Metterniehism in whatever is not 
tbe sole and only sentiment by wbieb I live. 

A book bas just appeared, very fine for certain soûls, 
often ill-written, feebie, cowardly, diffuse, wbicb ail tbe 
world bas proseribed, but wbicb I bave read courageously, 
and in wbicb tbere are fine tbings. It is u Volupté" by 
Sainte-Beuve. Whoso bas not bad bis Madame de 
Couaën is not worthy to live. Tbere are in tbat danger- 
ous friendsbip witb a married wornan beside wbom tbe 
soûl croucbes, rises, abases itself, is undecided, never re~ 
solving on audacity, desiring tbe wrong, not committing 
it, ail tbe delicious émotions of early youtb. In tbis book 
tbere are fine sentences, fine pages, but notbing. It 
is tbe notbing tbat I like, tbe notbing tbat permits me 
to mingle myself witb it. Yes, tbe first woman tbat one 
meets witb tbe illusions of youtb is sometbing boly and 
sacred. IJnfortunately, tbere is not in tbis book tbe 
enticing joyousness, tbe liberty, tbe imprudence wbicb 
cbaracterize passions in France. Tbe book is puritan- 
ical. Madame de Couaën is not suiilciently a woman, 
and tbe danger does not cxist. But I regard tbe book 
as very treacberously dangerous. Tbere are so many 
précautions taken to represent tbe passion as weak tbat 
we suspect it of being immense; tbe rarity of tbe 
pleasures renders tbem infinité in tbeir sbort and sligbt 
apparitions. Tbe book bas made me make a great re- 
fiection. Woman bas a duel witb man: if sbe does not 
triumpb, sbe dies; if sbe is not ri g ht, sne à\v&', if sbe is 
not bappy, sbe dies. Il is appalling. 



183-t] Letters to Madame Sanska. 197 

I hâve real neecl of seeing Vienna. I mnst explore the 
fields of Wagram and Essling before next June. I 
specially want engravings which show the uniforms of 
the German army, and I rnust go in search of them. 
II ave the kindness to tell me merely if such things exist. 

To-day, 25th, it is almost twelve days since I hâve 
received any letters from you. I live in such isolation 
that I count npon and look eagerly for the pleasures that 
corne into my désert. Alas! Madame de Berny's illness 
has cast me into horrible thoughts. That angelic 
créature who, since 1821, has shed the fragrance of 
heaven into my life is transformed; she is turning to 
ice. Tears, griefs, and I can do nothing. One daughter 
become insane, another daughter dead, a third dying, 
what blows! — And a wound more violent still, of which 
nothing can be told. And at last, after thirty years of 
patience and dévotion, she is forced to sépara te from 
lier husband under pain of dying if she remains with 
him. Ail this in a short space of time. This is what I 
suiïer through the heart that created me. 

Then, in Berry, Madame Carraud's life is in péril 
through lier pregnancy. Borget is in Italy. My mother 
is in despair about my brother's marriage; she has aged 
twenty years in twenty days. I am hemmed in by 
enormous, obligatory work, and by money cares, also by 
two little lawsuits which I hâve brought to solve the 
last difficulties of my literary life. 

For ail this one needs, as my doctor says, a skull of 
iron. Unhappily, the heart may burst the skull. I 
counted on the trip to Vienna as the traveller counts on 
the oasis in the désert; but the impossibility of it faces 
me. I must be in Paris from the 20th to the 30th of 
September. I hâve then to pay five hundred ducats, and 
when one digs the soil with a pen gold is rare. However, 
labour will suffîce. I shall be free in a few months, if 
the abuse of stucly cloes not kill me. I begin to fear it. 



198 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

Tuesday, 26. 

To-day I hâve finished "La Recherche de l'Absolu." 
Ileaven g mut that tlie work be good and beautiful. 1 
cannot judge of it; I am too weary with toil, ioo 
exhausted by the fatigues of conception. I see only the 
reverse side of the canvas. Everything in it is pure. 
Conjugal love is hère a sublime passion. The love of the 
young girl is fresh. It is the Home, at ils source. Y ou 
will read it. You will also read "Souffrances incon- 
nues," which hâve cosfc me four months' labour. They 
are forty pages of which I could not pyrite but two sen- 
tences a day. It is a horrible cry, without brilliancy 
of style, without pretensions to draina. There are too 
many thoughts in it, and too îiiuch drama to show on 
the outside. It is enough to make you shudder, and it 
is ail true. Never hâve l been so stirred by any work. 
It is more than "La Grenadière," more than "La Femme 
abandonnée." 

At the preseut moment I am makiiig the final correc- 
tions of style on the "Peau de Chagrin." I reprint 
it and remove the last blemishes. Oh! my sixteen hours 
a day are well employed! I go to the Opéra only once a 
week now. 

Day before yesterday Madame Sand, or Dudevant, 
just returned from Italy, met me in the foyer of the 
Opéra, and we took two or three turns together. I was 
to breakfast with lier the next day, but I could not go. 
To-day I hâve had Sandeau to breakfast, who told me 
that the day after that woman abandonod hiin he took 
sucli a quantity of acétate of morphia that his stomach 
rejectcd it, and threw it up without there having been 
the slightest absorption. I was sorry I had not received 
the confidences of Madame George Sand. Ile regretted 
it too, — ■ Jules Sandeau. The poor lad is very unhappy 
at this moment. I hâve advised him to corne and take 
Borget's room, and sliare with me until he eau make 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 199 

himself an existence with bis plays. That is wbat has 
most struck me tbe last few days. 

Well, I must bid you adieu, and tbis adieu, in place 
of tbe aie revoit' bientôt on wbicb I bad counted, saddens 
me to a point I cannot express. Remember me to ail 
about you. I sball write next to M. Hanski to tbank 
bim for bis letter, and expiai n to bim tbat tbe présent 
parliament will be, for tbe next five years, insignificant. 
Ail tbe European questions in connection with France 
are postponed till 1839. 

A tbousand constant regards. 



Fiiom H. de Balzac to M. IJanski. 

Paiïis, September 16, 1834. 

Monsieur, — I sbould be in despair if you would not 
undertake my defence towards Madame Hanska, tbougb 
I feel, indeed, tbat even if sbe would deign to forget two 
letters wbicb sbe bas tbe rigbt to tbink more than im- 
.proper, tbe friendship sbe would tben bave tbe goodness 
to give me would never be like tbat witb wbicb she 
bonoured me before my culpability. Nothing restores a 
broken tie, tbe join sbows always; an indelible distrust 
remains. 

But permit me to explain to you, tbe only person to 
wbom I can speak of tbis, tbe mistake wbicb gave rise 
to wbat I sball always regard in my life as a misfortune. 
But consider for a moment tbe boyish, laugbing nature 
that I bave, and on wbicb I would not now intrench 
myself if I bad not made you know it; it is because I 
bave been witb you as I am witb myself, witb tbe person 
I love best, tbat I justify myself. 

Togetber with this hearty boyishness there is pride. 
From any otber 1 would ratber receive a sword-thrust, 
were it even mortal, than lower myself to explain what 
I bave done. But to mend tbe chain, to-day broken, of 



UOO . Honoré de Balzac, [18:34 

an affection tlnit was tlear to me, I don't know wbat I 
would not do. 

Madame Ilanska is, indeed, tbe purest nature, tbe 
most ehildlike, the gravest, tlie gayest, ihe best edu- 
cated, tbe most saintly and tbe most philosopbical tbat I 
know, and I bave been won to ber by ail tbat I love 
best. I bave toid lier tbe secret of my affections, so 
tbat I could always be witb lier as I "wisbed. 

One evcning, in jest, sbe said to me tbat sbe would 
like to know wbat a lovc-letter was. Tbis was said 
wbolly witliont meaning, foi* at tbe moment it referred 
to a loi ter I bad been writing tbat morning to a lady 
wbom 1 wbl not namo. But I said, laugbing: "A îetter 
from Montauran to Marie de Verneuii?" and we joked 
a bout it. 

]>eing at Trieste, Madame ITanska wrote me: u IIave 
you forgotten Marie de Verneuii?" (T saw sbe referred 
to tbe "Cbouana," for wbicb sbe was impatient) and T 
wrote tbose two uufortunate letters to Vienna, supposing 
tbat sbe remembered our joke, and replying to ber tbat 
sbe would iind Marie de Verneuii in Vienna. 

Vou could never believe how sbocked I was at my 
folîy wben sbe answered me coldly on account of tbe 
lirst, wben I knew tbere was a second; and wben I 
received tbe three Unes tbat sbe wrote me, of wbicb, 
perbaps, you are ignorant, I was truly in despair. 

For mysolf, monsieur, I would give you satisfaction; 
it is very indiffèrent to me to be or not to be (from m an 
to man) ; but I sbould be, for tbe rest of my days, tbe 
most unbappy man in tbe world if tbis cbildisb folly 
barmed, in any way, Madame Ilanska; and tbat is wbat 
makes me write to you tbus. 

Tberefore, on my part tbere was neither vanit}? nor 
presumption, nor anytbing wbatever tbat is contemptible. 
1 wrote fadmitting myself to blâme) tbings tbat were 
uninlelligible to Madame Hanska. I am bere in a 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 201 

situation of dependence that excludes ail evil interpréta- 
tion; besides which, Madame Hanska' s négligence is a 
very noble proof of m y folly and lier sanctity. That is 
wliat consoles me. 

I earnestly désire, monsieur, that thèse explanations, 
so natural, shouid reach you; for though Madame 
Hanska has forbidden me to write to her, and said that 
she was leaving for Petersburg, I imagine that you will 
still be in Vienna to reçoive this letter, or that M. Sina 
will send it to you. 

Tell her from me, monsieur, how profoundly humiliated 
I a m — not to be grossly mistaken, for I never thought 
to do more than continue the jokes we made on the 
shores of the lake of Geneva when we talked of the 
Incroyables, but — to hâve caused her the slightest grief. 
She is so good, so completely innocent, that she will 
pardon me perhaps for what I shall never pardon myself. 
I am becoming once more truly a moujik. 

As for you, monsieur, if I had to justify m} T self to 
you, you will understand that I shouid not do it. Mon 
Dieu! I was so seriously occupied that I lost precious 
moments in writing those two letters I now désire to 
annihilate. 

If friendship, even if lost, still has its rights, would 
you hâve the kindness to présent to Madame Hanska, 
from me, the third Part of the u Etudes de Mœurs," 
which I finished yesterday, and which will appear 
Thursday, September 18? You will find the manuscripts 
and the volumes with M. Sina, to whom I addressed 
the m. 

If Madame Hanska, or you, monsieur, do not think 
this proper, I beg you to burn the manuscripts and the 
volumes. I shouid not like that what I destined for 
Madame Hanska at a time when she thought me worthy 
of her friendship shouid exist and go into other hands. 

"Séraphita," which belongs to her olso, will be finished 



202 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

in tbe "Revue de Paris," September 2Ï). I dare not 
send it to ber without knowing whether sbe wouïd accept 
it. I sball await your answer, and silence wili be one. 
As "Seraphita" will be immediately published in a 
volume, 1 sliall, if sbe is merciful, niake ber tbe humble 
dedication of tins work by putling ber arms and naine 
on tbe first leaf, witli thèse simple words: "Tbis page is 
dedicated to Madame H . . . by tbe author;" and sbe 
sball receive, at any place you mdicate, tbe volume and 
tbe manu script. 

However it be, and even if Madame Ilanska offers me 
a generous and complète pardon, I feel that I sliall 
always bave I know not wbat in my soûl to embarrass 
me. So, though I bave made to tbis precious friendbbip 
the greatest of sacrifices in writing tbe présent letter — 
for it contains tbings humiliating to me, and which cost 
me dear — I a m destined, no doubt, never to see you 
again, and I may therefore express to you my keen 
regrets. 1 bave not so many affections round me that 
I can lose one without tears. I was never so young, so 
truly "nineteen years old," as I was with lier. But I 
sball hâve tbe consolation to grow, to do better, to 
become sometbing so powerful, so nobly illustrious, that 
- some day sbe can say of me: "No, tbere was no wicked 
intention, and nothing small in bis error." 

In whatever situation we may bold to eacb otber when 
you receive tbis letter, permit me to tbank you for tbe 
kind tbings you bave said to me about my faîse élection 
and tbe "Médecin de campagne." Tes, if 1 ever enter 
tbe tribune, and seize power, the thing you speak of 
would crown my desires and be, in my po'itical life, tbe 
object of my ambition. I can say tbis without flattery, 
inasmuch as it was a fixed détermination before I ever 
knew you. I consider tbe priman 7 cause a sbame to 
France of the eighteenth century as nuich as to that of 
the nineteenth. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska, 203 

I hâve much work to do, monsieur; and I am over- 
whelmed by it. I did not expect this additional grief, 
for which I can only blâme myself. Express to Madame 
Hanska ail my sorrow, and, though she may reject them, 
I send lier my respects, mingled with repentance and the 
assurance of my obédience. But perhaps she bas 
punished me already by one of those forgettings from 
which there is no return, and will not evsn remember 
what occasioned my error. 

Adieu, monsieur; accept my sentiments and my 
regrets. De Balzac. 

In case you are no longer in Vienna, I bave notified 
M. Sina of the parcel. 

To Madame Hanska. 

Paris, October 18, 1834. 

Madame, — I went to spend a fortnight at Sacha, in 
Touraine. After the "Absolu " Dr. Nacquart thought me 
so debilitated that, not wishing (as lie said in his flatter- 
ing way) that I should die on the last step of the ladder, 
he ordered me my native air, and told me to write noth- 
ing, read nothing, do nothing, and think nothing — if I 
could, he said, laughing. 

I went to Touraine, but I worked there. My mother 
came hère and took charge of my letters. On arriving 
this morning I found a heap of them, but I sought for 
one only. I recognized the Yienna postmark and your 
handwriting, which brought me, no doubt, a pardon 
that I accept without any misplaced pride. Had I the 
wings and freedom of a bird you would see me in Vienna 
before this letter, and I should hâve brought you the 
most radiantly happy face in the world. But hère I can 
only send you, on the wings of the soûl, a respectful 
effusion. In my joy I saw tliree Vienna postmarks, just 
as Pitt, drunk, saw two orators in the tribune, while 
Sheridan saw none at ail. 



204 Honoré oie Balzac. [1834 

I résume m y correspondent according to the orders of 
y oui* Beau t y (capital B, as for Ilighness, Grâce, Holi- 
ness, Exeellency, Majesty, for Beauty is ail that) ; but 
Avhat can I tell you that is good? I am gay in my dis- 
tress, gay because my thoughts can rly, rainbow-hued 
and fearless, to you; but J am, in reality, fatigued and 
overwhelmed with work and obstacles. Do you really 
care mucli to know about this I if e of a bloody crater? 
IIow can I send to you, so fresh, so pure, the taie of so 
many sorrows? Do you know, can you knovv, wkat 
safïerings a pub;isher can cause us by launcbing badly 
into the woiid a l>ook "wliîcli lias cost us a hundred 
nights, like "La Recherche de l'Absolu." Two members 
of the Acadeni} r of Sciences taught me chemhstry that 
the book might be li*uiy scient i lie. They made me cor- 
rect my proofs for the tenth or tweîfth time. I had to 
read Berzelius, toil to be right as to science, and toil to 
maintain style so as not to bore wiîh cîiemistry the cold 
French reader by rnaking a book in whieh the interest 
is l)ased on chemislry, — in point of fact, there are not 
eight pages in ail of science in the four hundred pages 
of the book. 

Well, thèse giganlic labours whieh, doue within a 
given time, hâve worn ont twenty prinlers, who call me 
a "slayer of mon," because when J sit up ten nights 
they sit up five — well, thèse lion toiîs are compromised! 
The "Absolu," ten times grealer, in my opinion, than 
"Eugénie Grandet," wbl go without success, and my 
tweîve volumes will not be exhausted (as I am in making 
them) ; my freedoin is delayed! Do } t ou understand 
my wrath? I hoped to finish "Sernphita" in Touraine; 
but I hâve worn myself ont, like Sisyphus, in useless 
efforts. It is not every day that we can go to heaven. 

T began in Touraine a great work, — "Le Etre 
Goriot." You will see it in the coming numbers of the 
"Revue de Paris." I put in tiyeiitlles, laughing like a 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 205 

maniac; but not in the mouth of a young woman, do; 
in that of a horrible old one. I would not allow you to 
hâve a rival. 

I corne back hère: I hâve m y two last lawsuits to 
compound, my first part of the "Études Philosophiques" 
to launch; happily Werdet is an intelligent man and 
most devoted; but he lias very little money. I must, 
under pain of seeing him fail, do "César Birotteau" by 
December 15; besides which, Madame Bêche! must hâve 
her fourth Part of the "Études de Mœurs" by the lst to 
the loth of November. 

My pecuniary obligations are coming due, and my 
payments are made with difficulty. Besides which I 
hâve taken J. Sandeau to live with me; I must furnish 
for him, and pilot him through the literary océan, poor 
shipwrecked fellow, full of heart. Tn short, one ought 
to be ten men, hâve relays of brains, never sleep, be 
always blest with inspiration, and refuse ail distractions. 

It is now three months since I last saw Madame de 
Berny; judge of my life by that feature of it. Ah! if I 
were loved, my mistress migbt sleep in peace; there is 
no place in my life- — I won't say for an infîdelity, but — 
for a thought. It would n't be a merit; I am even 
ashamed of myself. I should hâve to do six hundred 
leagues on foot, go to Wierzchownia on a pilgrimage, to 
présent myself in youthful shape, for I am so fat that 
the newspapers joke me, the wretchesî That is France, 
la belle France ; they laugh at ills produced by toil ; they 
laugh at my "abdomen." So be it! they hâve nothing 
else to say. They cannot find in me either baseness or 
cowardice, or anything of wbat dishonours them; and, 
as Philippon of "La Caricature" said to me: "Be 
happy ; ail who do not lire by writhig admire your char- 
acter as much as your works." I grasped his hand w T ell 
that day. He gave me back my strength. 

You know by the announcement of the fourth Part, 



206 Honoré de Balzac. [i&m 

that I am busy with the second volume of the "Scènes 
de la Vie privée," but what you did not know of is "Le 
Père Goriot," a master work! the painting of a senti- 
ment so great that nothing can exhaust it, neither 
rebuffs, nor wounds, uor injustice; a m an who isfather^ 
as a saint, a martyr is Christian. As for " César 
Birotteau," I bave tokl you about him. 

Yes, I inhaled a little of the autumn in Touraine; I 
played plant and oyster, and wheii the skies were clear 
L thought it was an omen, and that a dove was coming 
from Vien na with a green ieatiet in her beak. 

I am now in my winter condition, in my study, with 
the Chartreuse gown you know of, working for the 
future. As for my joys, they are innocent, — the refur- 
nishing of my bedroom, a cane that bas made ail Paris 
gabble, a divine opera-glass which my chemists bave had 
made for me by the optician of the Observatoire; besides 
which, goïd buttons on my blue coat; buttons chiselled 
by fairy hands, — for the man who cardes, in the nine- 
teenth century, a cane worthy of Louis XIV. cannot 
keep upon bis coat ignoble pinchbeck buttons. It is 
thèse little innocent crotchets that make me pass for a 
millionaire. I bave created the sect of Canophilists in 
the fashionable world, and they take me for a frivolous 
man. It is very amusing. 

It is a month now since I bave set foot at the Opéra. 
I bave, I think, a box at the Bouffons. Is not that, 
you will say to me, very comfortable poverty? But 
remember that music, chased gold canes, buttons, and 
opera-glasses, are my sole amusements. No, you will 
not blâme them. 

Shall I send you the corrected "Peau de Chagrin"? 
Yes. Ten days hence that Baron Sina, who fills my 
minci on account of bis name, will receive, addressed to 
him, a package containing five 12mo volumes, in the 
style of the four of "Le Médecin de campagne," which 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 207 

Maître Werdet calls pretty little volumes. They are 
frightful; but tins édition is an édition intended to fix, 
definitively, the type of tbe grand gênerai édition of the 
work which, under tbe title of " Études Sociales," will 
include ail tbese fragments, sbafts, columns, eapitals, 
bas-reliefs, walls, cupolas, in short, the building, whieh 
will be ugly or beautif ul, whicb will win me the plaudlie 
cives or the gemonhe. Be tranquil; in that day, when 
the illustrated édition cornes, we shall find asses on 
whose skin to print you a unique copy, enriched with 
designs. That shall be the votive ofïering of the par- 
doned one. Well, forget my fault, but I shall never for- 
get it myself. 

Do not fe^ir, madame, that Zulma-Dudevant will ever 
see me attached to her chariot. ... I only speak of 
this because more ceiebrity is fastened on that woman 
than she deserves; whicb is preparing for her a bad 
autumn. 

Madame de Berny does not like "Volupté;" she con- 
demns the book as full of rhetoric and empty of feeling. 
She w r as revolted by the passage where the lover of 
Madame de Couaèn goes into evil places, and tbinks 
that character ignoble. She bas made me corne down 
from my judgment; but there are, nevertheless, fine 
pages, flowers in a désert. 

"Jacques," Madame Sand'slast novel, is advice given 
to husbands w T ho inconvenience their wives to kill them- 
selves in order to leave them free. The book is not 
dangerous. You could write ten times better if you 
made a novel in letters. This one is empty and fa'.se 
from end to end. An artless y oun g girl leaves, after 
six months of marriage, a superior man for a popinjay; 
a man of importance, passionate and loving, for a 
dandy, without any reason, physiological or moral. 
Then, there is a love for mules, as in "Lélia" for un- 
fruitful beings; whicb is strange in a woman who is a 



208 Honore de Balzac. [1834 

mother, and who loves a good deal in the German way, 
instinctively. Ail thèse authors roam the void, astride 
of a hollow; there is no truth tbere. I prefer ogres, 
Tom Thumb, and lise Sleeping Beauty. 

M. de (i . . . bas mnde a décent littïe failnre. ïbose 
who bave wounded me never prosper; is n't tbat singu- 
lar? Deeidedly, t'a te wills tbat 1 shail not see Madame 
de Castries. Eaeh lime tbat I rustîe against lier gown 
some misfortuue bappens to me. The last time, T went to 
Lormois, tbe résidence of tbe Duc de Maillé, to see ber. 
J came back on foot (to get tbin). Between Lon jumeau 
and Antony^ a sharp point inside my boot pusbed up 
and wounded my foot. il was balf-|)ast eleven at nigbt, 
— an bout- at wbicb a road is not furrowed with vebicles. 
I was just about to go to bed in a diteh, like a robber, 
when tbe cabriolet of one of my friends came by, empty. 
Tbe groom pieked nie up and took me home. I believe 
in fate. It is in tbeir harshness tbat we judge women. 
Tins one showed me a dry beart. As Eugène Sue says, 
the viscera werc tinder; tbey would bave stopped tbe 
blood instead of making it circuîate. Pardon me; tbis 
is tbe remains of tbe nail in m y boot. 

Fancy, I am going to give myself tlie pleasure of see- 
ing myself acted. I bave imagined a bulïoonery tbat I 
want to enjoy: "Pnidhoinme, bigamist." Prudbomme 
is miseiiy; keeps bis wife very short; she does tbe 
liousehold work and is a servant disguised by tbe tille 
of wife. She bas never been to an Opéra bail. lier 
neiglibour wants to take ber, and bei ng informed of the 
conjugal habits of Joseph Prudbomme, she assists the 
wife in making a lay figure resembling Madame Prud- 
bomme, wbicb the women put in the bed, and go off to 
tbe masked bail. Prudbomme cornes home, says his 
monologues, questions îiis wife, who is asleep, and 
fînally goes to bed. At five o'clock tbe wife returns; lie 
wakes, and fmds himself with two wives. You can 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 209 

never imagine the fun our actors will make of that 
sketch; bat I swear to you that, if it takes, Parisians 
will corne and see it a hundred times. God grant 
it! It will only cost me a morning, and may per- 
haps be worth fifteen thousand francs. It is the best of 
buffoonery! But ail dépends on so many things. Some 
one must lend me a naine ; the théâtres are sinks of vice, 
and my foot is virgin of stain. Perhaps the first and 
last représentation will be in this letter. Better one fine 
page not paid for than a hundred thousand francs for a 
worthless farce. I hâve never separated famé from 
poverty, — poverty with canes, buttons, and opera- 
glasses, be it understoocl, and a famé easy to carry. 
That will be my lot. 

Hâve I hid my real griefs? hâve I chattered gaily 
enough? Would you believe that I suffer, — that this 
morning I took up life with diffîculty, I rebelled against 
my solitude, I wanted to roam the world, to see what the 
Landstrasse was, to put my lingers in the Danube, to 
listen to the Viennese stupidities — in short, to do any- 
thing but write pages; to be llving instead of turning 
pale over phrases ? 

I await, with impatience, till your white hand writes 
a few lines in compensation of my toil ; for to him who 
counts suffrages and estimâtes them, yours are worth 
millions. I await, as Bugeaud said, "my peck;" then 
I shall start ofï, joyous once more, on a new course 
across the fields of thought. Who will unfasten my 
bridle and take off my bit; who will give me my 
freedom; when shall I begin to write "Philippe le Dis- 
cret," to work at my ease — to-day, a scène; to-morrow, 
nothing, — and date my work Wierzchownia? 

Do you know what a doublion is? It is the key of 
the fielcls, — it is freedom! Corne, corne! another day, 
my sadness! to-day the moujik is ail gaiety at having 
kissed the hand of his lad y, as in church they kiss the 

H 



210 Honoré de Balzac. |i8:i4 

golden pax tlie priest bokls ont. I am well of opinion 
of those who love Musset; yes, lie is a poet to put 
above Lamartine and V. Hugo; but tiiis is not y et the 
gospel. 

I place on y ou the care of thanking M. Ilanski for his 
last letter. But J am sorry in my joy. 1 wish it had 
been any other cause than the dear little Anna' s illness 
that detained you in Vienna. Kiss lier for me, on the 
forehead, if that proud infant sulïers it. And fmally, 
remember me to ail about you. 

You cannot hâve the boutid "Seïaphita" until New 
Year's day. I would like to kuow if I may send Aima 
a little souvenir without fear of the inquisitive nose and 
hands of the German custom-housc. 

Adieu; I hâve given you my hours of sleep so as not 
to rob Werdet, or Madame iïêehet; a thousand respectful 
affections, and deign to accept my profound obédience. 

Sunday, lOth, tbroe in tlic monimg. 

J bave not slept; I had not read ail my letters. M y 
last two difficulties are arrangeable. Two thorns less 
in my foot. 

I hâve read over my scribblings. I am afraid you 
cannot read them ; what shall I do? II ave I told you 
ail? Ohï no. There are many things that are never 
told. 

My mother is very proud of the "Absolu;" my sister 
writes that she wept with joy in reading it and in saying 
to herself that I was lier brother. Madame de 15erny 
finds some spots npon it. She does not like that Claës 
should turn ont his daughter; she thinks that forced. 
Madame de Castries writes me that she wept over it. 
I am sorry for the distance between Paris and Vienna. 
I would hâve liked to bave your opinion first. 

Ah! I may go to Engbnd for a few dnys fin ail, ton, 
to go and return). My hr.other-in-law bas just invented 



1834] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 211 

something wonderful, lie says, relating to railroads, 
which might be solcl for a good little million to the 
English. I shall try. 

Did I speak to you of Prince Puckler-Muskau, and of 
my dinner with him at the bouse of a species of German 
mou s ter wbo calls berself the widow of Benjamin Con- 
stant, but bas ail the air of being a good womau? Well, 
if I did not speak of it it will be the subject of a conver- 
sation when 1 am on the estâtes of your Beauteousness. 

On my way to England I shall stop one week at Ham. 
The illustrious Peyronnet bas expècted me there for six 
months, and the trip bas always been delayed. The 
Duc de Fitz-James writes to invite me to Normand} 7 ; 
refus éd. 

Mon Dieu ! forty letters read; it is a sort of drunken- 
ness. Among them are two unknown ladies. One 
modestly asks me to make lier portrait and write lier 
life. She has green eyes and she is a widow — that's 
the physical and the moral of her. The other sends me 
exécrable verses. At last I understand the cachets of 
Voltaire. They were not vanity; they were simply to 
avoid any but the letters of friends. This is what it is 
to bave — I, a poor devil — neither Ferney, nor two hun- 
dred thousand francs income, nor one hundred francs for 
postage. 

Sandeau will be lodged like a prince. He can't 
believe in bis luck. I embark him on a career of master- 
pieces by a thousand crowns of clebt, which we hypothe- 
cate on a bottle of ink. Poor lad! He does not know 
what duty is. He is free. I chain him. I am sorry 
for it. He is at this moment loved. A pretty young 
woman casts upon his wounds the balm of her smiles. 

Re-adien. 

Paris. October 6, 1834. 

I hâve been for the last few days so busy in settling 
Sandeau and furnishing him with everything, for he is 



21^ Honore de Balzac. [1834 

a ehild, tbat I hâve not been able to write to you; and 
now I shall hâve to do so by lits and starts, according 
to the order of my ideas and not tbat of logic. 

Ali! in the first place, can you eoneeive tbat tbey are 
finding fault witJi nie for the naine MAKOUEniTE in the 
"Recherche de l'Absolu." It is a Flemish naine, and 
tbat is ail there is to say about it. 1 inust be very 
irreproachable when they hâve to iind fault with me 
for tbat! 

Next Saturday I give a dinner to the Tigers of my 
opera-box, and î am preparing sumptuosities ont of ail 
reason. J shall bave Rossini and Olympe, bis cam 
donna [afterwards bis wife], who will préside. Next 
Nodier; then five tigers, Sandeau, and a certain Victor 
Bobain (a man of great political talent, unjustly 
sniirchedj, the most exquisite wines of Europe, the 
rarest flowers, the best cheer; in short, 1 in tend to dis- 
tinguish myself. 

J don't know who told me tbat your bitter-sweet 
cousin expected me in Geneva! Mon Dieu! bovv queer! 
It I wanted to be gallant I shouîd tell you tbat I would 
not cross the Jura in winter for any one in the world 
after having had the Maison Mirabaud []\Ime. Ilanska's 
bouse] for joy during tbat stay in Geiieva. Well, 
believe it. 

J bave worked nnich at "Père Goriot," whicb will be 
in the "Revue de Paris" for November. My first part 
of the "Etudes Philosophiques," the pièces of wdiich 
bave been corrected with excessive severily, will appear 
in a few days. I shall then busy myself with the 
"Mémoires d'une jeune Mariée," a delightful composi- 
tion, and with "César I>irotteau," whicb is taking 
immense proportions. Also Emmanuel Arago and 
Sandeau are going to do a great work in five acts, in 
whieh I bave a third, — a fuie subject, whicb will pay 
Sandeau's debts and mine; a drama, entitled "Les 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 213 

Courtisans." It will go first to the Porte-Saint-Martin; 
but it will eertainly get to the Français. It is mag- 
nifieent! (I am a little like Perrette and ber jug of 
milk.) If we win the stage, and oui* anonymous society, 
under the title of E. J. San-Drago (Sand-Arago), is 
successful, I shall be free ail the sooner, and Sandeau, 
trained by me to keep bouse, will allow me to travel. 
It is impossible tbat a man who destines himself to 
politics sbould not see Europe, not judge fundamentally 
of manners, morals, and interests. The struggle between 
France and otber countries will ahvays be decided by 
the Nortb. I must know T the Nortb at any cost, and, as 
M. de Margonne says, one bas to be young to travel. 
Tberefore, my liberty! oh, bow I long for it! 

I shall go to Ham about November 5, and, perbaps, 
from there to England ; but I shall return for the loth 
in Paris. My life is varied only by ideas; pbysically, 
it is monotonous. I speak confidentially witb no one 
but Madame de Berny or witb you. I fin cl tbat one 
sbould communicate but little witb petty minds; 
one leaves one' s w^ool tbere, as on bushes. I am vowed 
to great' sentiments, unique, lofty, unalterable, exclu- 
sive, and it is an odd eontrast witb my apparent levity. 
I assure you it would take at least five or six years to 
know to wbat point solitude bas made me susceptible, 
and of bow many sacrifices I am capable without osten- 
tation. Wbat of sentiments, feelings, I bave made 
visible in my w r ork is but the faint shadow r of the light 
tbat is in me. Up to the présent time one woman only, 
Madame de Berny, has really known w T bat I am, because 
sbe has seen my smile, always otherwise expressive, 
never cease. 1 In tvvelve years I bave bad neither anger 
nor impatience. The heaven of my heart has always 
been blue. Any otber attitude is, to my tbinking, 

1 Probably misprinted iii the French ; but I leave it Verbatim as it 
is giveu. — Tr. 



214 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

impotence. Strength shoulcl be a unit; and after hav- 
ing for seven years measured myseif with misfortune 
and van qui s lied it, and risen, to gain literary royalty, 
every night with a will more determined than that of the 
night before, I bave, I think, the right to call myseif 
stroug. Tlms ineonstancy, inlidelity are incoviprehen- 
sibilitles for me. Nothing wearies me; neither waiting 
nor happiness. My friendship is of the race of (lie 
granités; ail will wear-out before the feeling I bave 
conceived. Madame de Berny is sixty years old; lier 
griefs bave changée! and withered lier. My affection 
bas redoublée!. I say it without pride, because I see no 
merit in it. It is my nature; which God bas m a de ob- 
livious of evil, whiie ceaselessly in présence of the good. 
A being who loves me ahvays makes me quiver. Nol)ie 
sentiments are so fruitful; why shouid wc go in search 
of bad ones? God made me to smell the fragrance of 
flowers, not the fetor of mud. And wh}% too, shouid I 
entangle myseif in meannesses? Ail within me tends 
toward what is great. I choke in the plains, I live on 
the moun tains! And theii, I bave undertaken so muchî 
We bave reached the era of inte//iyenre. Mater ial 
monarchs, brutal forces are passing away. There are 
worïds intellectual, in which Pizarro, Cortez, Columbus 
must appear. There will be sovereigns in the kingdom 
of thought. "With this ambition no baseness, no petti- 
ness is possible. Nothing wastes time iike petty 
things; and so, I need something very great to fill my 
mind outside of this circle where I lind the inimité. 
There is but one thing — to the infinité, the infinité — 
an immense love. If I bave it, shouid I go in search of a 

Parisian woman, a Madame de ? (Some one told me 

yesterday that she wished a scandai; that her husband 
left her free, but her vanity is sueh — I believe it — that 
she wants to be talked about.) 1 bave such a horror 
of the women of Paris that I camp upon ni} T work from 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 215 

six in the morning till six at night. At balf-past six 
my birecl coupé cornes for me, and takes me one day to 
the Opéra, anotker to the Italians, and I go to bed at 
midnight. Thus I bave not a minute to give to any one. 
I receive visitors while I dine; I talk of our plans for 
the plays during dinner. I correspond witb no one but 
you, Madame de Bemy, my sister, and my mother. Ail 
other letters wait till Sanday, wben I open them, and ail 
tliat are not on business are banded over to Sandeau, 
wbo offers me bis band as secretary. 

So doing, I sball end by extinguisbing tbis fire of 
debt and acaomplishing my proroised work. Without 
it, no salvation, no liberty. The deuce! you will get 
the proof of what I now bave the pleasure of writing to 
you, and of my firmness 7 wben you see my books; for a 
m an can't coquet and amuse himself, and bring out 
such publications. Toil and the Muse; tbat means that 
the toiling Muse is virtuous, — she is a virgin. It is 
déplorable that in tbis nineteenth century we are obliged 
to go to the images of Greek mythology; but I bave 
never been so struck as I am now by the powerful truth 
of those myths. 

Do not think that what I bave been writing is a round- 
about way of telling you that, wbatever be your âge and 
face, my affection for you would be the same. I shouîd 
not take circuitous ways to tell you a thing it would 
give me pleasure to express if I did not think you had 
enongh perspicacity to bave felt it, divined it. No ; I was 
examining myself in good faitb without any intention of 
showing myself off. I wish to be so great by intellect 
and famé tbat you can feel proud of my true friendship. 
Each of my works, wbich I want to make more and more 
extended, better thought, better wTitten, will be a flattery 
for you, a flower, a bouquet that I sball send you! Dis- 
tance alone admits of flowers of rhetoric. 

My brother-in-law bas just discovered a process which, 



21 G Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

in his opinion, solves on railways the problem of 
inclined planes, and will save great costs in construc- 
tion and traction. It is possible to sell tliis invention 
to the English; hère he bas taken out a patent, and the 
English purchaser can take out an export patent. M y 
brother-in-law does not want to go to London, and I am 
going to attempt this affair in the inlerests of my 
sister. That is the history of my jouruey to London. 

We are not satislied with our brother in Normandy. 
His wife is pregnant. Ile lias complicated, still further, 
the diiliculties of his life, poor créature. ]\iy mother is 
not well; I wish I couid see lier in good health to enjoy 
what I am preparing for her. But, good God! she lias 
had man y trials. To-day she turns to me, and heartily; 
she seems to recognize, without admitting it, the great 
wrong of her slight affection for my sister and me; she 
is punished in the chiid of her choice in a dreadf ul way. 
Henry is nothing, and will be nothing. He has spoiled 
the future his brother-in-law or I mi g' ht hâve made for 
him by his marriage. Ail this is horribly sad. 

Yesterday I re-read your letters. j\s I was putting 
them away, pressing them together to arrange them 
better, they exhaled a fragrance, I know not what, of 
grandeur and distinction that could not be mistaken. 
Those who talk of your forehead are not in error. But 
what is surprising in your îetters is a turn of phrase, ail 
your ow r n, wiiich issues from your heart as your glance 
from your eyes ; it is our language written as Fénelon 
wrote it. You must liave read Fénelon a great deal, or 
else you hâve in your soûl his harmonious thought. 
When thèse Ietters corne I read them first like a man in 
a hurry to talk with you ; J do not really taste them till 
the second reading, which happens capriciously. When 
some thought saddens me I hâve recourse to you. I 
bring out the little box in which is my elixir, and I live 
again in your Italian journey. 1 see Diodati ; T stretch 



1834] Letter s to Madame Ilanska. 217 

myself on tkat good sofa of tbe Maison Mirabaud I 
turn tbe leaves of tbe "Gotha," that pretty "Gotha;" 
and tben, after an bour or two, ail is serene. I find 
something cool witbin me. My soûl bas rested on a 
friendly soûl. No one is in my secret. It is sometbing 
like tbe prayer of tbe mystic, from wbicb be rises radiant. 
Will you tbink me very poetic? Bat it is true. 

My Sandeau bas brougbt out a book wbicb is alreacly 
sold. It is "Madame de Sommerville." Read it, tbis 
first book of a young man. Hold out your band to bim ; 
do not be severe. Keep your severities for me; tbey 
are my privilège. Madame de Berny pays me no more 
compliments. From her, criticisms. Criticisms are 
sweet wben made by a friendly band ; we believe tbem ; 
tbey sadden because tbey are, no doubt, true, but tbey 
do not rend. 

Well, adieu. You ougbt to be reading my last letter 
at tbe moment I am writing tbis. If you wrote to me 
so that I should receive your letters on Sundays, I would 
answer on Mondays. We sbould gain by not crossing 
each otber. 

I sball send, without letter of advice, to Sina's address, 
the first part of the " Études Philosophiques." You 
know ail tbat; but let me believe that you take an inter- 
est in thèse enormous corrections à la Buffon (lie cor- 
rected immensely), wbicb ought to make my work, wben 
completed ("Études Sociales," about wbicb I told you), a 
monument in our fine language. 1 I believe tbat in 1838 
tbe three parts of tbis gigantic work will be, if not 
wholly finished, at least built up, so tbat a judgment can 
be formed of the mass. 

The "Études de Mœurs" will represent ail social 
effects, without a single situation in life, physiognomy, 
character of man or woman, manner of living, profes- 

1 He changed the title to "La Comédie Humaine, ' which is indeed 
a monument, and lus monument. — Tii. 



218 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

s ion, social zone, Frencb région, or anything whatever 
of childhood, nia tu ri ty, old âge, politics, justice, or 
war, having been forgotten. 

Tbat clone, tbe bistory of tbe buman beart traced 
thread by tbread, tbe social bistory given in ail its 
parts, tbere is the base. Tbe tacts Avili not be imaginary ; 
they will be what is bappening everywhere. 

Tben, tbe second structure is tbe "Études Philoso- 
phiques;" for after tbe offerts will corne tbe causes. I 
sball bave painted in tbe "Etudes tleMd'iirs" sentiments 
and tbeir action, life and its deportmcnt. In tbe 
"Etudes Philosophiques" I sball tell wlnj tbe senti- 
ments, on ivhat tbe life; wbat is tbe Une, wbat are tbe 
conditions beyond wbicb neitber society nor man exist; 
and, after baving surveyed society in order to describe 
it, I sball survey it again in order to judge it. So, in 
tbe "Études de Mœurs" indicidualitîes are typified ; in 
tbe "Etudes Pbilosopbiques " types are individuaiized. 
Thus I sball bave given life everywbere: to tbe type 
by individualizing it, to the individual by typifying 
bim. I sball bave given thought to tbe fragment; I 
sball bave given to tbougbt tbe life of tbe individual. 

Tben, after effeets and causes, will corne tbe " Etudes 
Analytiques," of wbicb tbe "Physiologie du Mariage" 
is a part; for after effeets and causes we must searcb for 
priueiples. Manners and morals [n-<rurs~\ are tbe play; 
causes are tbe coulisses and tbe machiner ti. Priueiples 
are tbe meiker. But in proportion as tbe work winds 
spirally up to tbe beigiits of tbought, it draws itself in 
and condenses. Tbougb twenty-four volumes are re- 
quired for tbe "Etudes de Mœurs," only lifteen are 
needed for tbe "Etudes Philosophiques," and only ni ne 
for tbe "Etudes Analytiques." Thus man, society, 
humanity will be described, judged, nnalyzed, without 
répétitions, and in a work wbicb will be like an "Ara- 
bian Nigbts " of tbe West. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 219 

Wben ail is clone, my Madeleine scraped, my pedi- 
ment carved, my last touches given, I shall bave been 
riyht, or I sball bave been wrong. But, after having 
made tbe poesy, tbe démonstration of a wbole System, I 
sball make tbe science of it in an Essay on Human 
Forces ["Essai sur les Forces Humaines"], And, on 
tbe cellar-walls of tbis palace I, cbild and jester, sball 
bave drawD tbe immense arabesque of tbe " Contes 
Drolatiques." 

Do you tbink, madame, tbat I bave mucb time to lose 
at tbe feet of a Parisian woman? No; I bad to cboose. 
WelJ, I bave now shown you my real mistress; I bave 
removed ber veils. Tbere is tbe work, tbere is tbe gulf, 
tbere is tbe crater, tbere is the matter, tbere is tbe 
woman, tbere is sbe who takes my nigbts, my days, wbo 
puts a priée on tbis very letter, taken from hours of 
study — but taken with deligbt. Ab! I entreat you, 
never attribute to me anytbing petty, low, or mean, — 
you, who are able to measure tbe spread of my vvings! 

Well, re-adieu. Recall tbe carver, tbe founder, tbe 
sculptor, tbe goldsmitb, tbe galley-slave, tbe artist, tbe 
tbinker, tbe poet, tbe — whatever you will, to tbe memory 
of tbose about you wbo love bim, and tbink of tbe power 
of a lonely affection, tbat of a palm-tree in tbe désert, a 
palm-tree tbat rises to tbe skies for refresbment, if you 
would know tbe part tbat you bave in it. Some day, 
wben I bave fînisbed ail, w r e will laugb beartily over it. 
To-clay one must work! 

Paris, November 2 ; 2 — DecemLer 1, 1834. 
Mon Dieu ! I bave to bear tbe burden of my own 
giddiness. I bave not been to London; my brother-in- 
law cbanged bis mind. You tbink me in England and 
you bave not written. I a m hère witbout knowing wbat 
bas become of you, or wbat you are doing. A tbou- 
sand anxieties bave seized me tbe last few days. Are 



220 Honore de Balzar. L 18 ^ 

you ill? Is M. Ilanski ill? Is Anna? In fehort, I am 
inaking dragons for myself about you. I expected a 
letter, and tlie letter not coming I began to search ont 
u'hij. The why is youv beJief in my departure. 

I hâve no good things to tell you. I am inortaïîy sad. 
In spite of tbe consolations of work and the forced activ- 
ities of poverty, tbere is a void in ni y life tbat weighs 
upon me. In moments of dépression I am solitary. 
Madame de Berny slill suiïers cruelly, and sbe remains 
in the country. J bave been to see lier for a few days. 
Those few days are ail 1 bave bten able to give lier for 
hve niontbs. You can judge by tbat what my life bas 
been, — a désert to cross. Shall I reach tbe bappy land 
where slreams and verdure and the gazelles are? 

My poor mother is extremely ill. I expect ber hère 
to-morrow; consultations as to lier health are neeessary. 
My brother's housebold is more and more disheartening, 
and toward the close of every year business affairs are 
generally diilicult. You see tbat ail conspires to sadden 
me. 

We hâve, Sandeau and I, begun a great comedy: "La 
Grande Mademoiselle," history of Lauzun, bis marriage, 
and, for culminât ion, "Marie, pull off my boots." But 
with a subject of this kind we may fail before a public 
blasé with horrors. AV hâte ver is merely witty seems 
pale. Ilowever î 

I was writing this wben yonr letter came, and I will 
answer it point by point. You kuow my character very 
little if you tbink tbat I ever abandon a sentiment, or an 
idea, or a friend. No, no, madame; it takes many 
wounds, many blows of the axe to eut down what is in 
my heart. Borget is in Italy; Borget is roving, paint- 
ing, and does not write to me. I bave h ad news of him 
only indirectly ; nevertheless, lie is always fresh in my 
thougbts, tbough we bave known each other for several 
years. 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 221 

I am not infatuated about Sandeau ; but I held out a pôle 
to a poor swimmer who was going under. Where you are 
right is in believing firmly that I will let no one pene- 
trate to tbe deptbs of my beart. For tbat, tbe "Open, 
Sésame " tbat you bave uttered is necessary. Few per- 
sons know tbose sacramental words. I sbould be tbe 
raost unhappy man in tbe world if tbe secrets of my 
soûl were known. Conjectures, bowever, are not lack- 
ing. But I bave too great a power of jesting to allow 
of anytbing I wisb to bide becoming known. In France, 
we are obligée! to veil deptbs by levity ; witbout it we 
sbould be ruined bere. 

Your letter re animâtes me a little, mucb, extremely. 
You bave put a balm into my beart, like tbe Fosseuse. 
I will send you, immediately, tbe tive volumes of tbe 
4 'Etudes Pbilosopbiques," my " Lettre à la littérature," 
and "Le Père Goriot" in manuscript; togetber witb tbe 
two numbers of tbe "Revue de Paris" in wbicb it will 
appear. 

"César Birotteau" is getting on, and tbe "Mémoires 
d'une jeune Mariée " are on tbe ways. I work now 
twenty bours daily. Luxury will never prevent me 
trom realizing my project of solitude at Wierzcbownia, 
tor J see plainly, on one band, tbe impossibility of being 
bere in présence of tbe literary discussions about me 
wbicb are beginning to arise violently, and the need of 
preparing, far from pin-pricks, two great bludgeon 
blows, — tbe tragedy of "Philippe IL" and "L'Histoire 
de la succession du Marquis de Carabas," in wbicb tbe 
political question will be plainly decided in favour of 
tbe pow r er of absolute monarchy. But witbout tbis 
reason I sbould still bave the keenest désire for travel; 
and even witbout tbis cause, again, there is a greater 
reason tban ail otbers, wbicb would make me surmount 
every obstacle. Do you know it? Will you bave it? 
Do you care for it? Well, I know notbing sweeter, 



222 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

more endearing, grau (1er, more delightful than your 
friendship. To go in search of it, to enjoy it for eight 
days, one could well travel eigbt hundred leagues and 
not mind the labour of tbe journey. 

No, no, tbe tiyers will not pervert me. Alas! tbey 
are too stupid. J am compromised. I must give up my 
box on account of tbal neigbbouibood. It is a stable of 
tigers ! 

I saw at tbe Opéra, in a box near mine, Delphine 
P . . . , poor thing! witbered, cbanged, faded, mistress 
of M. de F . . . Mon Bleu! wbat a skeleton ! Yvnat 
a wearied and wearying air! with a species of dead-leaf 
skin! No, tbat woman is not a womaii! Sbe looks 
like a corpse about to fall into putréfaction. On tbe 
other hand, behind our box is tbat of the Comtesse 
Comar, or Komar, or Komarck, for it was Zahiski who 
told me the name, and I don't know tbe spelling of it ; 
never did I see a more amiable, more seduetive old 
woman. Sbe is Madame Jeroslas . . . plus heart and 
frankness. Sbe had two pretty créatures with lier. 
Zaluski is to présent me. You don't know bow I like 
to be with persons of your country. A name in ka or 
Ici goes to my heart. 

Oh! if you are kind, if you love me (I wish I could 
say that gracefully and irresistibly, as you say it), you 
will never leave me fifteen days witboul a letter. 
Whether you be in Vienna or at Wierzchownia, you do 
not know bow sweet a true friendship is to tbe heart of 
a poor toiler who lives in the midst of Paris like a 
labourer in the Swedish mines. I bave eut loose from 
everytbing. I bave no duty to fui fil to society. I bave 
a horror of false friends and grimaces. I am alone, 
like a rock in mid-ocean. My perpétuai labour is not to 
the taste of any one. My poor sister Laure is angry at 
not seeing me. T want to triumph over tbe remainder 
of the distresses that envelop me; and I bave not been 



1834] Letters to Madame lïanska. 223 

strong, constant, and courageous for five years to fail in 
the sixtb. 

Shoald I get a month to myself at the beginning of 
the year, you vvill not be displeased if I bring my New 
Year's gifts to the pretty little Anna myself, inasmuch 
as the Custom-house is so malicious? I shall hâve the 
pleasure of going five hundred leagues to dine with you. 
But so much work must be doue to attain this resuit that 
I only speak of it as one of those impossibilités that 
spur me to work and redouble my courage; something 
résulta from it. The ''Recherche de l'Absolu" was 
only written through a hope of this kind. The compro- 
mise with Gosselin took the profits of that arduous 
labour. Ohî you do not know me. In your letters 
there are complaints, doubts, and polite accusations 
that dishearten me. 

u Le Père Goriot" is a fine work, but monstrously sad. 
To make it complète, it was necessary to show the moral 
sbik-hole of Paris; and it has the efïect of a disgusting 
sore. 

Wednesday, 26. 

I must tell you that yesterday (my letter has been 
interrupted) I copied out your portrait of Mademoiselle 
Céleste, and I said to two uncompromising judges: 
"Hère is a sketch I hâve just flung on paper. I wanted 
to paint a woman under given circumstances, and launch 
her into life through such and such an event." 

What do you think they said? — "Read that portrait 
again." After which they said: — 

"That is your masterpiece. You hâve never before 
h ad that laisser-aller of a writer which shows the hidden 
strength." 

"Ha, ha!" I answered, striking my head ; "that 
cornes from the forehead of an analyst." 

I kneel at your f eet for this violation ; but I left out 
ail that was personai. Beat me, scold me, but I could 



224 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

not refuse myself tbe enjoyment of tbis praise; ancl I 
tasted the greatest of pleasures, — tliat of secretiy liear- 
inç a person praised wiio is unknown and to whom one 
bears a deep affection, It is enjoyment twice over. 

I am convinccd of tbe immense superiority of your 
mind, and I am confounded to find in you such féminine 
grâces, togetber with tbe force of mind which Madame 
Dudevant bas and Madame de Staël once bad; and I say 
tbis very loud, that you may not make yourself small 
bebind that tall steeple you. bave so often boasted of to 
me. Tbe opinion that I express upon you is a matured 
opinion. I am hère, far from tbe prestige of your 
présence. I go over in my mind, impartially, your say- 
ings, your opinions, your studies, and I write you thèse 
lines witb a sort of joy, because Madame Carraud and 
Madame de Berny bave made other woraen seem very 
small to me; and because, in the matter of grâce, 
amenity, and the science hidden under tlie frivolity of 
smiles, I am a great connoisseur, having lovingly inhaled 
those flowers of womanhood, and what I say of you is 
conscientious and true. Iîesides, you are too (jrande 
dame to be proud of it. What you should be proud of 
is your kindness, and tliose qualities wliich are acquired 
only by the practice of Christian virtues, at which I 
never jest now. 

Forgive me the disconnectedness of my letters, the 
incompleteness of my sentences. T write to you at night 
before I begin to work. My letters are like a prayer 
made to a good genius. 

Go to tbe Pra ter witb M. Hanskiî Mon Bleu! 3^011 
trample tbe world unclerfoot, and you do not set in the 
light that which is good! 

Ah! I must tell you that literature, seeing my cane, 
my chiselled buttons, bas decided that I am the Benjamin 
of an old English w r oman, Lady Anelsy (I write the 
name badly), whom I met at Madame (VAbrantès, and 



1834] Letters to Madame HansJca. 225 

who has a box at the Opéra, near mine (she séparâtes me 
from Madame Delphine P . .' .), and to whom I bow. 
I hâve answered friends (friends who are tigers in the 
guise of doves) that, not being able to bear the features 
of the old lady in my heart, I hâve had them carved on 
the knob of my cane. You hâve no idea what a fuss 
m y movable property créâtes. I hâve much more suc- 
cess through that than through my works. That is 
Paris ! 

My dinner? Why, it made an excitement. Eossini 
declared he had never seen, eaten, or drunk anything 
better among sovereigns. It sparkled with wit. The 
beautiful Olympe was graceful, sensible, and perfect. 
Lautour-Mézeray was the wittiest of men ; he extin- 
guished the cross-fire of Rossini, Nodier, and Malitourne 
by an amazing artillery vigour. The master of the 
feast was the humble îighter who put the match to each 
sun in this array of fireworks. Ecco. 

I told you that "La Recherche de l'Absolu " would 
astonish you; well, you will be as little prepared for 
"Père Goriot." After that will corne the glorious end 
of "Séraphita." Never will imagination hâve been in so 
many différent sphères. I do not speak of the perfumer 
Birotteau, or of the "Mémoires d'une jeune Mariée;" 
those will be supporting the battle with fresh troops. 

Do you know for whom is this success? Well, I want 
you to hear my name gloriously, respectfully pronounced. 
I want to give you the sweetest enjoyments of friend- 
sbip; I want to hâve you say to yourself: "He laughed 
like a boy at Geneva, and he made campaigns into 
China!" For you think he is a moralist, a toiler, a 
cynic, a — I don't know what. But he is a child who 
loves pebbles, and talks nonsense, and does it; who 
reads "Gotha," plays patience, and makes M. Hanski 
laugh. 

Geneva is to me like a memory of childhood. There 

15 



22G Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

I quitled my chain; tbere I laughed withoiit saying to 
myself, "To-morrow! " I shall aiways remember having 
tried to dance a galop down the long salon al Diodati, 
where Byron got drunk. And the eountry aboul la 
Bellotte! I must not think too much about ail that; î 
should go to Vienna! I bave such superstition, sueh 
vénération foi 1 persons witb whom J ean be mtjxdf. IIow 
bas tbat corne about among us? 1 don't know, but so it 
is. 1 ean talk ot* my griefs, m y joys, befoie you and 
Monsieur Ilanski; hère I am myself only witb my 
sister and Madame de Berny, — probably because you 
resemble tbe latter, and are very mueh my sister. At 
tbis moment I would fain tell you, honourahly, ail grace- 
ful and sweet tbings, and send you, gathered one l)y 
one in tbe tields of t'riendsbip, tbe prettiest ilowers, — 
tbose you like best; for 1 wish never ogain to lie for one 
moment under your displeasure. 

If you ordain it, Lucullus will retroat into tbe si in of 
Diogenes in order not again to read thèse words: "Your 
goings-on as Lucullus at i 1 1 retard your freedom." 

I dine to-day witb one of tbose wbo 1oolc Algiers, the 
commissary-general Denniee, Tvho for tbe last tbree years 
is in love witb an admired créature (rallier a fool), Made- 
moiselle Amigo, of tbe Xtalian Opéra. There, came 
Rossini, in disbabille and not sarenstie. Yesterday, at 
tbe first représentation of "Erani," Olympe said to me, 
motioning to Rossini: — 

"You cannot imagine bow beautiful and sublime tbe 
soul of that being is; bow kind he is, and to what point 
be is kind. To réserve bis beart and its treasures for 
lier he loves, he wraps himself in sarcasm to the eyes 
of others; he makes himself prickiy." 

I took Rossini's liand and pressed it joyfuby. 

ii Mio maestro," 1 said to liiin; "then we ean under- 
stand each other. " 

"What, you too!" he said, smiling. 



1834] Letters to Madame Sanska. 227 

I lowered my head ; then I showed him ail tbat bril- 
liant Paris which was présent, and said: — 

"To cast one's diamonds and pearls into ihat mud — " 

And at tbat moment my eyes fell upon "Delmar's" 
box. 

Monday, December 1. 

My lelter bas remained for eigbt days on, in, and 
underneatb "Le Père Goriot." I bave bad a tbousand 
money worries, but I am getting out of tbem. Never 
bave I been so powerf ul to get tbrougb tbis business by 
my firm will. Anotber few montbs, and I am saved. 

Witbin a few days a little joy bas come to me. After 
much pressing, and receiving no for an answer for the 
last tbree years, tbey bave consented to sell me "La 
Grenadière." So I sball bave a retreat for study, and 
tlie furniture, books, and arrangements I sbould make 
will remain mine. I could live tbere six montbs, incog- 
nito, witbout seeing any one. So bere I am, very bappy 
— so far as a material tbing can give bappiness. 

You bave been proud of "Père Goriot." My friends 
déclare that it is comparable to notbing, and is above 
ail my otber compositions. 

Do you know that I am uneasy on wbat your last 
letter said relating to depth of heart, to wbicb no man 
could ever attain. Tbose few words make me tbink you 
do not know me well, and it grieves me, because you 
cannot love me as well as I migbt be loved if I were 
known better. Mon Dieu ! I am the object of a tbou- 
sand caluinnie3, each more ignoble than the others, and 
I pay no more attention to them than be who is above 
the Jura listens to Pictet. Is tbat a merit? But a word 
from you puts aîarm into my brain 7 into my heart. 

Well, adieu. It is now eight days tbat I bave been 
conversing witb you. I will write a little more regu- 
larly in future. The doctors hâve obtained tbat I sball 
change my way of life. I am going to bed at midnight 



228 Honoré de Balzac. [1834 

to rise at six in the morning, and work from then till 
three in Ibe afternoon. I slia.ll bave from tliree io five 
for my pleasures, and I will write joti eaeh day a littlc 
line. After which I am crdered io go and anmse myself 
for six liours tid midnight. 

Mon Dieu! I hâve tlie same diiliculty in qniiiing my 
pen ihat I liad in quitiing ilie Maison M ira ban d when 
llie inaster forced nie io go by going io bed himself. A 
tbousand prettinesses to Anna, my friendly regards io 
M. IJanski, if you don't keep ibeni ail for yourself. 

Paris, Deccmber 15, 1834. 

Oh! how long it is sinee 1 bave seen your writing! 
Hâve I failen again into disgrâce? Are you displeased 
witb my long leiters written at intervais? I can only 
give you — oiïer you a day hère and tbere; it is a day of 
respite in tlie midst of my long com'bat. It is tlie 
moment when I, poor dove without a branch, rest my 
feet beside the living spring, the source where she dips 
lier thirsty beak into the pure waters of affection. 

Yes, ail is enlarging — the eircus and the atlilete. 
To face ail, I must imitaie the French soldier during the 
first campaigns in Ilaly: never reçoit before impossi- 
bilities^ and fmd in victory the courage to beat back the 
morrow's enemy. 

Last week I took in ail but ten hours' sleep. So that 
yesterday and to-day I hâve been like a poor foundeied 
horse on his side, — in my bed, not able to do an} T thing, 
or hear anything. The fact is, the first number of "Père 
Goriot" made eighty-thrce pages in the "Revue de 
Paris," équivalent to half an octavo volume. I had to 
correct the proofs of those eighty-three pages three 
times in six days. If it is any glory, I alone could 
make that tremendous effort. But noue the less must 
my other works be carried on. 

Forgive me, therefore, the irregulai'ity of my eorre- 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 229 

spondence. To-day one flood, to-morrow another flood 
sweeps me along. I bruise myself against one rock, I 
recover, and am thrown upon a reef. Thèse are struggles 
thaï no one eau appreeiate. No one knovvs what it is 
to change ink into gold ! 

I hâve begun to tremble. I am afraid that fatigue, 
lassitude, impotence may overtake me before I hâve 
erected my building. I need, from time to time, good 
little words said out of France, some great distractions, 
and the great est come from the heart, do they not? 

However, "Père Goriot" is an unheard-of success; 
there is but one voice: "Eugénie Grandet," the 
"Absolu," are surpassed. I am, so far, at the first num- 
ber only, and the second is beyond that. Tiyeuilles 
has made people laugh. I return you that success. 

But you, what hàs become of you? No letters! 
nothing! A few days more, and I hope my work will 
be rewarded by reaching your ear like a reproach. I 
did believe you would periodically cast me a smile, a 
letter, a gracious clew of words written to refresh the 
brovv, the heart, the soûl, the will of your moujik. Which 
of us can dispose of our time? You. Who writes 
oftenest? I. I hâve most affection, that is natural; 
you are the most lovable, and I hâve more reasons to 
bear you friendship than you hâve to graut it to me. 
There is but one thing that pleads for me; misfortune, 
misery, toil; and as you hâve ail the compassions of 
woman and of angel, you should think of me a little 
oftener than you do. In that, I am right. Write to 
me every week, and do not be vexed with me if I can 
only answer you twice a month. This torrential life is 
my excuse. Once I am freed, and you shall judge of 
me. Yes, forgive mueh to him who loves and toils 
much. Reckon to me as something nights without sleep, 
days without pleasures, without distractions. Madame 
Mitgislas . . . invited me, but I did not accept; I bave 



2-30 Honoré de Balzac. [isa-4 

neither the lime nor tbe wish to do so. Society gives 
so little and wants so niuehî and J am so ill at ease 
in it! 1 am so embarrassed on reeeiving silly compli- 
ments, and true sounds of the heart are so raie! 

Since I wrote to you there lias been nothing but work 
in my lii'e, slashed with a few little good débauches of 
music. We hâve had "Moïse" and "Semiramide " 
mounted and executed as those opéras hâve never been 
before, and every tinie that eitlier is given I go. It is 
my only pleasure. I do not meddle in politics. I say, 
like some grammarian, I don't know who, "Whatever 
happens, I bave six thousand verbs conjugated." I 
bring daily, like an ant, a chip to my pile. There are 
days when the memoiy of the île Saint-Pierre gives me 
frenzies; I thirst for a journey, I writhe in my chains. 
Then, the next day, I think that I bave fifty ducats to 
pay at the end of the month, and I set to work again! 

AVill you like me with long hair? Everybody hère 
says I look ridiculous. I persist. My hair bas not 
been eut since my sweet Gène va. In order that you 
may know what I mean by "my sweet Geneva," you 
ought to see Charlet's caricature on "my sweet Falaise " : 
a conscript on Mount Blanc, not seeing an apple-tree, 
calls it "Land of evil!" 

At this moment I am working at two things: "La 
Fleur du Poix," and "Melmoth réconcilié." Then I bave 
also to do the counterpart of "Louis Lambert," "Ecee 
Homo," and the end of the "Enfant Maudit," besides 
that of "Séraphita" (winch belongs to you), and that of 
"Le Père Goriot," winch will end the year 1834, just as 
the end of "Séraphita" began it. 

You understand that ail my time is fully employed, 
nights and days; for, besides thèse things, I bave proofs 
of my reprints which are always going on. Sandeau is 
horrifiée!. Ile says that famé can never pay for such 
toil, and that he would rallier die than undertake it. Ile 



1834] Letters to Madame Hanska. 231 

bas no other feeling for me tban tbe pity we give to sick 
people. 

I shall see you, no doubt, in Vienna. I hâve very 
solidly determined witbin myself to go tbere in Marcb, 
so as to be able to make a reconnoissance of tbe battle- 
tielcls of Wagram and Essling. I sball start after tbe 
carnival. 

Did I tell you tbat I am to bave tbe Grenadière? 

Mon Dleit! I return to your silence; you do not know 
bow uneasy I am about you, your little one, and M. 
Hanski. It would not cost you mucb just to say: "We 
are ail well, and we think of you." 

Well, I must say adieu, send you a tbousand gracious 
tbougbts, and beg you to offer my respects to M. Hanski, 
keeping my bornage at your feet. 



232 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 



III. 
LETTERS DURING 1835. 

Paris, Jaimary 4, 1835. 

I hâve had the happiness to reçoive two letters from 
you witliin a few days of each otJier, \vdiile you hâve 
doubtless received both mine. I return to -mes moutons 
by asserting that you eau write to me regularly, and that 
it is not permissible in you to deprive me of my sun. 

Bah ! 1 hâve not seen eiiher K . . . or Y . . . again. 
AVhy do you soold me? Don't takc my magic-lantern 
views for realities. 

ALI is înuch changed sinee my iast letter. Alas! 1 had 
the ambition to be near you on the 2(îth of January, and 
I began to work eighteen hours a day. I stood it for 
fifteen day s, from my last letter till Deeember ol ; then I 
risked an insomnia ; and I am now waking from a sleep 
of seveiiteen hours, taken at intervais, winch lias saved 
me. AVhat lias the pul)lic gained? lt Le Père Goriot," 
on wbieh thèse stupid Parisians dote. ' L Père Goriot" is 
put above everything else, 

I wait till I hâve linished " Sèraphita " to send it at 
the same time as the manuscv'pt of " Sèraphita," in its 
binding of cloth and silk as you wished, simple and mys- 
terious as the book itself ; also the manuscript of " Le 
Père Goriot " with the printed book, the first Part of the 
4 fc Etudes Philosophiques," and the fourth of the " Etudes 
de Mœurs." 



18C5] Letters to Madame Hanska. 233 

My works are beginning to be better paicl. "Père 
Goriot" has brougbt ine seven thousand francs, and as it 
will go into the " Etudes de Mœurs " in a few months, I 
may say that it will bring me a thousand ducats. Oh ! 
I am very deeply humiliated to be so cruelly fastened to 
the glèbe of my debts, to be able to do nothing, never to 
hâve the free disposai of myself. Thèse are bitter tears, 
shed day and night in silence ; they are sorrows inexpres- 
sible, for the power of my desires must be known, to coni- 
prehend that of my regrets. 

So you fatigue yourself by going into society, — you, 
flower of solitude, and so beauteous in worldly inexpé- 
rience ! Your letter brought the whole social life of 
Vienna into this study where I work without ceasing. I 
became a worldling with you. 

Alas! I am threatened with a grief that will spread 
over ail my life. I went for two days to see Madame de 
Berny, who is eighteen leagues from hère. I was witness 
of a terrible attack. I can no longer doubt it, she has 
aneurism of the heart. That life, so precious, is lost. 
At any moment death may take from me an angel who 
has watched over me for fourteen years ; she, too, a 
flower of solitude, whom the world has never touched, 
and who has been my star. My work is not done with- 
out tears. The attentions due to lier cast uncertainty 
upon any time of which I could dispose, though she her- 
self unîtes with the doctor in advising me some strong 
diversions. She pushes friendship so far as to hide lier 
sufferings from me ; she tries to seem well for me. You 
will understand that I hâve not drawn Claës to do as lie 
did. Great God ! what changes in lier hâve been wrought 
in two months! I am overwhelmed. To feel one's self 
well-nigh mad with grief, and yet to be condemned to toil ! 
To lose that grand and noble part of my life and to know 
you so far away from me is enough to make one throw 
one's self into the Seine ! The future of my mother which 



234 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

rests upon me, and that hope which shines afar, so far ! 
are like two branches to which I cling. Therefore your 
scolds about the K.s and the P. s and îny dissipations make 
me smile sadly. Neverllieless, I hâve put your letter 
next to my heart, with Huit profound sensé of egotism 
which makes us elasp the last friend who is left to us. 
Y ou will be, if this person is taken from me, the only 
and sole person who lias opened my heart. You alone 
will know tiie Sésame, for the feeling of Madame Car- 
raud of Issoudun is in sonic sort the double of that of 
my sister. 

You will never know with what power of cohésion I hâve 
recourse to the inemories of that young friendship, while 
weeping to-day over a feeling which death is about to 
destroy, leaving ail its ties behind it in me. 

The reading of the second number of u Père Goriot " 
gave Madame de Berny suc h pleasure that she had an 
attack of the heart. 80 I, wlio did not suspect the grav- 
ity of the harm, was the innocent cause of suffering. 

I began a letter quite gaily, after having received yours 
of the 12th; but J threw it into the lire. Its gaiety hurt 
me. You will forgive me, will you not, for that chastity 
of feeling? — you, so like to her f you in whom 1 hnd so 
many of the ideas, grâces, noblenesses, which hâve made 
me name that person : my conscience. 

Between this sorrow and the distant light I love, what 
are men, the world, society! There is nothing possible 
but the constant work into which î throw myself — work, 
my saviour, which will give me liberty, and return to me 
my wings. I quivered on reading your reasoning : u Xo 
letters ; he is coming." That idea naturally came to 
you; I hâve too often been tortured by it. î a m seized 
with periodic furies to leave ail l^eînnd me, to escape, to 
spring into a carriage ! Then the chains clang down ; I 
see the thickness of my dnngeon. Tf T corne to you it will 
be as a surprise, for I can no longer make décisions on 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 235 

that subject. I must finish for Madame Bêchet the fifth 
Partof the ''Etudes de Mœurs," finish the second part of 
the "Etudes Philosophiques" for Werdet, finish " Séra- 
phita," and provide the necessary money to pay ail hère 
in my absence, and I hâve not a single friend of whom I 
can ask a farthing ; it has ail to be drawn from my ink- 
stand. Therc is my Potosi ; but to work it I must do 
without sleep and lose my health. Poverty is a horrible 
tliing. It makes us blâme our own heart ; it clenaturalizes 
ail things. In my case it is necessary that talent or 
power of writing be as punctual to time as the falling due 
of my notes. I must not be ill, or suffering, or ill-dis- 
posed for work. I must be, like the scales of the Mint, 
of iron and steel, and coining always ! Yet I exist only 
by the heart. And so I suff er ! Oh ! I suffer, as much as 
any créature can suffer who is ail independence, feeling, 
open to happiness, but clogged and groaning under the 
iron weight of the chain with which necessity crushes 
him ! 

At this time last year I was without my chain, far 
from my worries, near you. What a looking back to the 
past ! Then I did not think about being able to release 
myself, I was thoughtless about my debts. To-day I 
believe in my libération ; I hâve nearly reached it. Six 
months more of sacrifices and I am saved, I become my- 
self, I am free ! I shall go and eat with you the first bit 
of bread that belongs to me, that will not be steeped in 
tears and ink and toil. 

I do not want to sadden you, I only want to tell you 
that if T am oppressed I feel as keenly the happiness 
there is in being able to tell of it. But you neglect me 
as if you were nothing to me; you write me seldom. 
Why will you not give me, to me alone, one day in the 
week for a letter. Suppose I were in Vienna and went 
to see you every Sun day, I, poor workman, you w^ould 
give me that day. Well, I déclare to you that if I am 



236 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

not in Yienna in the body I can be there in thought. 
Write me therefore on that day. I shall then hâve a 
letter every week when this rolling of letters is once 
established. 1 will answer you. You bave not written 
me a single letter to wbieb I bave not instantly replied. 

I offer you no spécial New Year's wishes. Tbose 
wishes I make daily for you and yours. 

I shall send by diligence to-day the first Part of the 
u Etudes Philosophiques" so that you may not wait 
but may aiwa} T s keep the run of my work, You will 
easily guess that the Introduction bas cost me as much 
as it bas M. Félix Davin, whom I bad to teach and re- 
eorrect iintil he h ad suitably expressed my thought. 

I do not know if the "Revue de Paris " reaches Yienna. 
You will hâve seen in it a u Letter " of mine to the French 
authors of our century, in which I expose ourills. If you 
bave not seen it, tell me, and I will send you a copy. 

The end of wt Séraphita " is a work of great ditïiculty. 
The (*ermans bave sent translators to Paris to get it bot. 

Adieu ; do not leave me again without letters, or I 
shall think myself abandon ed for society, wbich returns 
you notbing. To whom do you think I should repeat 
your judgment on M. Anatole de Th ... ? You always 
think that I go nnd corne and belong in the world of 
idlers. That is an opinion rooted in your mind ; and 
because you are going and coming yourself you want me 
to he your accomplice in that grand conspiracy of ennui. 

Ail your judgments on Yienna hâve been confirmed by 
Alphonse Royer, who stayed there. Tbanks to you, I 
know Yienna by heart; but as long as } r ou are there 
notbing could disgust me with it, were it a hundred times 
more stupid and more gluttonous. Ah ! they still bave 
reserved sofas, but they reserve notbing in their hearts. 



1835] Lctters to Madame Hanska. 237 

Paris, January 16, 1835. 

In spite of constant work and the greatest efforts of con- 
centrated will, I hâve not been able to finish what I ought 
to do in order to hâve the power to leave to-day, to profit 
by this mild weather (which reminds me of the winter of 
Geneva), and reach Vienna on the 2 G th. Everything is 
against it. The " Kevue de Paris " would not double its 
number so that 44 Père Goriot" could be finished. I hâve 
still my u Cent Contes Drolatiques" on my hands, the 
purchase of them being delayed for a fevv days. I hâve 
not failed about anything, but men hâve failed me. If I 
finish ail by the middle of February I shall count myself 
lucky, and hâve about a month during which the journey 
will be to me the sweetest of necessities. 

I hâve, however, sacrificed everything, even writing to 
you, to that object. 

You willreceive, by diligence, the manuscript of " Père 
Goriot" and the two numbers printed in the "Revue." 
Hère, every one, friends and enemies, agrée in saying 
that this composition is superior to ail else that I hâve 
done. I know nothing about it. I am always on the wrong 
side of my tapestry. But you will tell me your opinion. 

Now I hâve to finish 44 L'Enfant Maudit" and " Séra- 
phita," which will appear during the first ten days in 
February. Next, to finish "La Fille aux yeux d'or," 
and do u Sœur Marie des Anges." The latte r is a female 
44 Louis Lambert" [it was ne ver written]. You will read 
it. It is one of my least bad ideas. The abysses of the 
cloister are revealed ; a noble heart of woman, a lofty 
imagination, ardent, ail that is grandest, belittled by 
monastic practices ; and the most intense divine love so 
killed that Sœur Marie is brought to no longer com- 
prehend God, the love and adoration of whom hâve 
brought lier there. Then I hâve to do " La Fleur des 
Pois " and the counterpart of 44 Louis Lambert," entitled 
44 Ecce Homo." 



238 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

I am much fatigued, mueh tormented, much worried, 
especially about money. That wire, which pulls one back 
at every moment from on high into tliis heap of mud, is 
intolérable ; it saws my neck. 

I hâve dined with Madame Delphine P . . . , but I left 
nothing there of my sentiments. A pretty little créature 
was présent, a Princess Galitzin, and I made lier laugh 
by telling lier there was a silly, stupid créature at Gen- 
thod who did lier great wrong by synonymy. I thought 
Madame Delphine neither affectionate, nor kind, nor 
grande dame. I made a rapid turn to you and burned 
incense before you, recalling to mind certain of those per- 
fections about which you will not let me speak to you. 
A few intonations in M. Mitgislas ... 's voice, vaguely 
reminded me of y ours and made my heart beat. 

IIow cold society is ! I came home joyfully to my 
hermitage, of which you will find a drawing some day at 
Wierzchownia ; for did you not tell me that you h ad sub- 
scribed to ic Les Maisons de personnages célèbres"? 
Well, I am in it; which does not prove that I am a per- 
sonage or celebrated, when you see what silly folk are 
there made famous. 

A year without seeing } t ou ! IIow many times the 
désire lias seized me to drop everything, to laugli at 
publishers, and flee away ! Then I said to myself that 
though you might be glad to see me, you might, periiaps, 
blâme me also, and that what inakes us worthy of esteein 
and grand, ought never to make us less friends, you 
and me. Reassure me, tell me that you do not love me 
less because I hâve not been able to find a month in a 
year. The proof of my seclusion is in what I hâve clone, 
which astonishes even publishers. Yet there are people 
who still say, " Ile brings nothing out." 

But ail this labour will seem nothing, so long as it 
gives me liberty, independence. AVhen 1 think that I still 
need seventy thousand francs for that, and to get them 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 239 

I mast spread six bottles of ink on twenty-four reams of 
paper, it makes me shudder. They offered me yesterday 
twelve thousaud francs 'for tlie "Mémoires d'une jeune 
Mariée." But I prêter the four thousand of tlie " Revue 
de Paris " and tlie four thousaud for a thousand copies 
bought by a publisher, to putting the three thousand 
copies on the public market. I tell you my little affairs. 

Madame de Berny is better. She déclares that the 
worst symptoms hâve ceased, but I am going there to 
assure myself of the truth of what may be a divine lie, 
of which I know lier capable. To help me- bear my 
burden she would fain take from me ail anxieties and 
drymytears. Oh! she is a noble angelî There is none 
but you to continue lier to me. 80, ail thèse days, dur- 
ing my grief, my eyes, my hopes turn ever to you with 
a force that might make me believe you hâve heard me. 

Oh ! leave me, to me so far away from you, the sad 
privilège of telling you how sweet and good and pre- 
cious your frieudship is to me. What proud courage it 
gives me hère against many a snare, what a principle of 
laborious coustancy it lias put into my life ! But I lack 
a collar on winch is priuted, " Moujik de Paulowska." 

Well, adieu ; think a little of him who always thinks of 
you, of a Frencliman who lias the heart of which you 
are ail so boastful across the Danube, who never for- 
gets you, who will briug you from hère his white hairs 
and his big monk's face subdued by a cloister regimen, 
— a poor solitary, who pines for the talks, and would 
like to cast at your feet a thousand glorious crowns to 
serve you as floor, as pillow ! 

Well, re-adieu. Kiss Anna's forehead for me; remem- 
ber me to ail about you and those I had the pleasure to 
know. They seem to me so happy in being near you. 
Remind M. Hanski of his lively guest, who lias now laid 
up a fine stock of hearty laughs, for lie lias been sad 
enough this long time. Write me always a little. I don't 



240 Honoré de Balzac, [1835 

know how it is I bave not had a line thèse ten days. Does 
society absorb you ? Alas ! yoar moujik lias been himself 
un poco into tbat market of false smiies and charming 
toilets ; lie lias made bis début at Madame Appony's, — 
for tbe bouse of Balzac must live on good terms witb tbe 
bouse of Austiïa, — and your moujik bad some success. 
Ile was examined witb tbe curiosity felt for animais from 
distant régions. Tbere were présentations on présenta- 
tions, wbicb bored bim so tbat lie went to collogue in a 
corner witb Kussians and Pôles. But tbeir names are so 
diiiicult to pronounce tbat lie cannot tell you anytbing 
about thein, furtber tban tbat one was a very ugly dame, 
friend of Madame Ilahn, and a Countess Sehouwalof, 
sister of Madame Jeroslas ... Is tbat rigbt? Tbe 
moujik will go every two weeks, if bis lady permits bim. 

Among tbe autograpbs sent, bave I included one from 
Bra, wbo is one of oui* présent sculptors? lie is a curi- 
ous man in tbis, tbat lie was led to mysticism by tbe 
deatb of bis wife, and for two montbs lie went to evoke 
lier from lier grave. Ile told me tbat lie saw lier every 
evening. Ile bas now remarried. Ilere is a saying of 
Stendhal: " We feel ourselves tbe intimate friend of a 
womau wben we look at lier portrait in miniature ; we are 
so near to lier ! But oil-painting casts us off to a great 
distance. " "What sball we say of sculpture? 

Parts, Jamiary 26, 1835. 
To-day I bave finished " Le Père Goriot." 
I leave to-morrow for a week, to work beside my dear 
invalid. Sbe is better, she say s, but I sball not really 
know anytbing until I bave been witb lier a week. 

On my return, I hope tbat "Père Goriot" will be 
reprinted. " Séraphita " will corne to you later. But 
perhaps I shali bring you thèse things myself, accom- 
panying tbe pomade, Anna's ring-case, and ail the otber 
things witb whicb you bave cleigned to commission 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 241 

me. I hâve acceptée! too much of the sweets of hos- 
pitality that you should hesitate to use me as you please. 

Yes, I hâve the possibility of resting for a month from 
March 2 to April 2. I must; and besides, my money 
affairs are becoming less hard. I shall hâve won this 
month of freedom by five months' exorbitant labour. 
But, if I hâve been sad, troubled, without heart-pleasure, 
at ieast my efforts hâve ail succeeded. "Le Père Goriot " 
is a bewildering success ; the most bitter enemies hâve 
bent the knee ; I hâve triumphed over ail, friends as well 
as enemies. When " Séraphita " lias spread her glorious 
wings, when the "Mémoires d'une jeune Mariée" has 
shown the last linéaments of the human heart, when 
44 Les Vendéens " has snatched a palm from Walter 
Scott, then, the u I shall be content in being near you ; 
you will not then hâve a friend without some value. As 
to the m an himself, you will ne ver fmd him anything but 
good, and a child. 

I will not speak to you of the sadness mingled with joy 
that took possession of me this morning. To be at once 
so far off and so near! What is a year? This one has 
been long, agonizing within the soûl, short through work. 
If gleams of a promised land did not shine as through 
a twilight, I tliink that my courage would abandon me 
at the last effort. It needs my sober, patient, equable, 
monkish life to resist it ail. A woman is much in our 
life when she is Béatrice and Laura, ancl better still. 
Jf I had not h ad a star to see when I closed my eyes, 
I should hâve succumbed. 

I hâve been, out of curiosity, to the Opéra masked bail 
for the first time in my life. I was with my sister, who 
had committed the imprudence of going there against her 
husband's wishes. Knowing this, I went to fetch her and 
bring her home without giving lier time to go round the 
hall. As I was leaving, and waiting for the carnage, a 
very élégant gentleman with a mask on his arm stopped 

16 



242 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

me, and putting himself between me and the door whis- 
pered that the masked lady lie had on his arm wished to 
speak to me. I rebuffed the mask ; I think a woman bas 
little dignity to corne down to such trickery, and 1 said to 
the gentleman : — 

" You know the laws of a masquerade; I obey the 
mask yon see hère, I ain bound to do so." 

The masked woman then said, in French mangled by 
an English tongue : — 

" Oh ! Monsieur de Balzac ! " 

But in such a lamentable accent that I was struck by 
it. Then she turned to my sister, who was laughing 
heartily, and said : — 

44 Well, then, between you and me, madame. " 

My sister told me afterwards that this mask was neither 
well dressed nor well shod. 

There's my adventure, the sole and only one I shall 
probably ever bave at a masked bail; for I hâve ne ver 
before gone to one, and, doubtless, shall ne ver go to 
another. I do not see what good they are. If two people 
love each other, the bail is useless. If the} 7 go in search 
of what are called bonnes fortunes I think them very bad, 
and I ask myself if it is n't rather Jeroslas, that is to say, 
Jesuitical (this between ourselves), to satisfy, under a 
mask, a passion we will not own. 

If I can leave on the first days of Mardi, the sovereign 
of Paulowska will hâve had letters enough from me to let 
lier know it. God grant that for one inonth more I may 
not be ill or ill-inspired ! I shall make my préparations 
joyously. Be kind enough towrite me a line in answer to 
the following : I should like, in order to go quickly and 
without care, to hâve no luggage. If I clear in the cus- 
tom-house hère for Yienna, to the address of Baron Sina, 
my personal efïects, books, manuscripts, etc., will they 
be opened in Yienna without my présence ? Will they 
get there without being opened on the way? Can I, 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 243 

without fear, put in ail the things I*want for my own 
use? And finally, bow many clays does it take for pack- 
ages to go from Paris to Vienna? I would like to travel 
without stopping, and hâve only my own person to fling 
from one carriage to another till I get there. 

Adieu ; forty days are alinost nothing to me now, and 
I tell myself tbat forty days lience I shall be in the maii- 
cart for Strasburg. I shall see Vienna, the Danube, the 
fields of Wagram, the island of Lobau ; I clon't say any- 
thing about the Landstrasse. As a faithful moujik I 
know nothing that is grander than those who inhabit it. 

Do you still go into society? But of us two, the one 
who is busiest and the least rich in time is the one who 
writes oftenest. I growl, like a poor neglected dog, but 
to whom it suffices to say, u Hère, Milord ! " to make him 
happy. 

Paris, February 10, 1835. 

Though I hâve scareely time to write, I cannot be 
silent al)out tire pleasure I felt yesterday at a fête given 
by Madame Appony, w r hen Prince Esterhazy, having 
asked to see me, began to talk of a certain Madame 
Hanska, née Ezewuska, whose minci, grâces, and knowl- 
edge had astonished him, and who had given him the désire 
to see me. With wiiat joy I said before seven or eight 
women, who ail hâve pre tension s, that I had ne ver met 
in my life but two women who could match you for 
learning without pedantry, womanly charm, and lofty 
sentiments — I will not tell you ail I said; I should seem 
to be beggiug a favourable glance from the sovereign of 
Paulowska. But ail the women made faces, especially 
when the prince agreed with me about your beauty, and 
told how r everybody knew that your wit did not make 
you spiteful, for you were graciously kind. I could hâve 
huggecl that good little prince ! 

Well, a few days more, and I shall hâve the pleasure 
of seeing you. 



24-4 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

1 hâve just returned from Nemours. Alas! Madame 
de Berny is no better. Tlie malady makes frightful 
progrès», and I cannot express to you how that soûl of 
my life was grand, and noble, and touehing in those days 
uieasured by illness, and with what fervour she desires 
that another should be to me what she lias been. She 
knows tlie inward spring and nobility that the habit of 
earrying ail things to an idol gives me. My God is on 
earth. I hâve judged myself hourly by her. I say to 
myself in everything, " What would she think of this?" 
and this refleetion corroborâtes m y conscience, and pre- 
vents me from doing anything petly. 

IJowever violent attacks and calumnies may be, I 
mardi higher up. I answer nothing. Oh ! madame, there 
was a memory, and a sensé of horrible pain which rent 
me during the ton days I rested after fct Père Goriot." 
I will tell you that that work was done in forty days ; 
in those forty days I did not sleep eighty hours. But 1 
must triuinph. 

I am going once more to risk, as the doctor says, my 
u intelligential life " in order to finish the second delivery 
to Werdet, the fourth to Madame Bêehet, and tw Séra- 
phita." As soon as that is done, I shall buy La Grena- 
dière, and, the deeds signed, I shall fly to Vienna, see the 
battle-field of Esslhig, and from there, something of the 
Landstrasse, where you are. I shall corne in search of 
a little praise — if you think that my year of toil deserves 
any; and you know that the words that escape you are 
put where I put those of la dilecta. Though she is ill, 
her children will stay with her during my absence, and she 
could not hâve me then, so I make this journey without 
remorse. Besides, she knows it is necessary, as diver- 
sion, for the weariness of my head. 

So, unless I am ill between now and the 20th of Mardi, 
which is not probable, I shall work with the sweet interest 
of going, my work accomplished, toward that Vienna 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 245 

where ail ray troubles will be forgotten. The atmosphère 
of Paris kills me ; I smell toil, debt, eoemies ! I need 
an oasis. On the other hand, "Le Père Goriot" has 
created an exeitement; there never was such eagerness 
to read a book; the booksellers advertise it in advance. 
It is true that it is grandiose. But you will judge. 

As for the "Lettre aux Ecrivains," alas ! I cannot 
look at it without pain, for la dilecta thought it so fine, so 
majestic, so varied, that she h ad palpitations of the heart 
which injured her, and I don't like those pages any more. 

You know that one of the qualities of the bengali is 
inimitable fidelity. Poor bird of Asia, without his rose, 
without his péri, mute, sad, but very loving, the désire 
seizes me to write his story. 1 hâve begun it in the 
"Voyage à Java." 

Adieu ; this scrap of a letter is scribbled on a pile of 
proofs that would frighten even a proof-reader. A thou- 
sand homages, and kindly présent my obeisances to M. 
Ilanski. I return to my work with fury, and I wish you 
the realization of ail the wishes you make. Find hère 
the expression of the most sincère and most respectful 
of attachments. 

Paris, Mardi 1, 1835. 

I have received, madame, the letter in which you 
announce to me your departure for your lonely Wierz- 
chownia. I shall therefore not see you in Vienna. I 
shall delay my trip to Essling and Wagram till the end of 
the suminer, so that when I go, I can push on to the 
Ukraine. 

Well, you will be accompanied by the sincerest prayers 
for your happiness and for that of those about you. As 
for me, after a few days' diversion, necessitated by 
lassitude, I have just returned to thedeepest seclusion, in 
order to finish up my two agreements with Madame Bêchet 
and Werdet, and to grow, to enlarge myself, to raise 
my name to the height of the esteem you give to it, that 



246 Honoré de Balzac. t 1835 

you be not proud in vain of having granted me a few 
days of gracious friendship ; ray pride, mine, will ever 
be legitimate enough. I tell you once more, with a sort 
of religious émotion, tliat you are, together with lier of 
whom I hâve so often spoken, the most beauteous soûl, 
the noblest heart, the most attractive person that I hâve 
seen in tins world, the most superior mind and the best 
instructed. Let me tell you this that I think, at the 
moment when you are about to put as great a distance 
of time between us as there is already. 

I bave been measuring the amount of work that re- 
mains for me to do ; it will take six months to finish it. 
For six months, there fore, I shall try to rise higher, to 
send you fine works, the flowers of my brain, — the only 
flowers that can cross that great distance unwithered, 
— which will reach you, like those I hâve sent already, in 
their coarse germ and their first dress. Accept thein 
always as a proof of my respect and admiration, as a 
proof of that constancy that you yourself advise, as the 
pledge of a pure and holy friendship, and as a testimony 
in favour of calumniated France, accused of levity, but 
where are still to be found chivalrous soûls, lofty, strong, 
who do not treat lightly true affections. You hâve given 
me the désire to raise, to improve myself ; let me be grate- 
ful in my own way. 

On returning to my retreat, I found Grosclaude on the 
threshold. Ile asked me to let him make my portrait, 
full length, in my working-dress. He told me that in case 
lie did it, you and Monsieur Hanski had asked for a copy. 
You will not refuse the person painted when you already 
possess the first impulsion of his thought in manuscript. 
I am so happy in this friendship of which you and M. 
Hanski do not reject the proof s. We are so far off! 
Let me approach you as materially as I can. You will 
say yes, will you not? 

I hâve just broken ail the threads by which Lilliput- 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 247 

Paris helcl me garoted; I hâve macle myself a secret re- 
treat, wliere I shall live six months [rue des Batailles, 
Chaillot]. I was seized with profound émotion on entering 
it ; for it is hère that my last battle will be fought, hère 
tliat I mustgrasp the sceptre. If I suecumb ! If I should 
not sacceed ! If (in spite of a régime n prescribed by 
doctors who hâve traced me a manner of living so that I 
may struggle without danger through my work), if I fall 
ill ! A erowd of such thoughts seized me, inspired by the 
gravity of the things I am undertaking. At last, in the 
early morning, I went to the window, and I saw, shilling 
above my head, the star of that delicious hour. I had 
confidence, I was joyful as a child, after being feeble as a 
child ; I went back to my table, crying out the " Ha, ha ! " 
of the horse of Scripture. Then I determined to begin 
by writing you thèse Unes. Bring me luck, you and the 
star, will you? The second thing I hâve to do is the end of 
ct Séraphita," an immense work, thatl hâve meditated for 
three or fonr months, and which rises ever higher. I 
hâve n ow only to write it. You know it belongs to you. 

You ought, at this moment when I am writing, to hâve 
read " Le Père Goriot." How shall I sendyou my manu» 
scripts when you are in Russia? You must tell me. As 
for the books, it will be equally difficult. You must give 
me your instructions. Mine to you are that you shall be 
well in health, that M. Hanski be gay, hâve no black 
butterflies, that his enterprises shall prosper, that Anna 
shall jump and laugh and grow without accidents ; and that 
ail about you be well and happ}^. 

At the begin ning of the autumn, therefore, if it please 
God, and if I bave frultfully worked, you w r ill see a 
pilgrim arriving and ringing at your castle gâte, asking for 
a few days' hospitality, who would fain repay you by 
laying at your feet the laurels won in the literary tourna- 
ment — as if glory could ever be anything else than a 
grain of incense on the altar of friendship ! One word is 



248 Honore de Balzac. [1835 

worth more than thèse puffs of wind ; and that word of 
gratitude I sliall ever say to you. 

The inclosed autograph is that of a friend of mine who 
may become something some day ; there is one remarkable 
thing about him whieh will recommend himto youvherahli- 
comaniacal favour; he is descended from Jeanne d'Are, 
through lier brother Gautier. His name is Edouard 
Gautier d'Arc, Baron du Lys, and he bears the arms of 
France, supported by a woman, on his shield. Is not that 
one of the finest things in the présent day? Well, of a 
man whom we ought to make peer of France with a fine 
entailed estate, we hâve made a consul at Valentia ! lie 
lias ambition. 

Paris, March 11, 1835. 
I bave just reeeived your good letter of the 3rd instant. 
It lias given me plea<;ure and pain. Pleasure, you are 
better; pain, you hâve been ill. You see, I had the time 
to go to Vienna, and now I cannot. I shall go and see 
you at Wierzchownia for after taking measures for " La 
Bataille " at "VYagram, I shall not think anything of a few 
hundred more leagues to say good-day to you. 

You are ahvays so good you will let me take you for con- 
fessor, tell you ail, be confiding, and hâve in you a soûl? 
You will fi nd inclosed the dedication of " Séraphita." 
llave the kindness to answer me by return courier, that I 
may know if you approve it. In a thing of this kind 
there must be no point left to object to ; dedications can- 
not be corrected. " Séraphita " will be finished by the 
first Sunday in April, therefore you hâve time to throw a 
u yes" into the post on receiving this letter. Your silence 
tv ill mean disapproval. The u Revue de Paris" is hor- 
ribly anxious to get this end ; it lias reeeived complaints 
without number. 

When the number is out I will send it to you through 
Sina; but I own that I do not like to risk the manuscript. 
What shall I do, therefore? You will receive the fourth 



1835] Lettcrs to Madame Hanska. 249 

Part of the " Etudes de Mœurs," the second édition of 
"Goriot," "'Melmoth réconcilié," the manuscripts of 
" La Fille aux yeux d'or/' and the " Duchesse de Lan- 
geais," and, perhaps, that of " Séraphita ; " perhaps also 
the second Part of the " Etudes Philosophiques." 

What shall I tell y ou about ail this ? The fînishing of 
"Séraphita" kills me, crushes me. I hâve fever every 
day. Never did so grand a conception rise before any 
man. None but myself can know what I put into it; 
I put my life into it ! When y ou receive this letter the 
work will hâve been cast. 

There never was a success equal to that of " Goriot." 
This stupid Paris, which neglected the "Absolu," lias 
just bought twelve hundred copies of the first édition of 
" Goriot " [in book form], before its annouucement. Two 
other éditions are in press. I will send you the second. 

Hère I am, with piles of gold, comparée! to my late 
situation; for I still hâve seven thousand ducats to pay 
[70,000 frs.], but in three months " Goriot" gives one 
thousand ducats. During the last three months I hâve 
regularly paid orï four thousand ducats a month with the 
product of my peu ! 1 

Besides " Séraphita," I am fînishing " L'Enfant Mau- 
dit," remaking " Louis Lambert," and completing "La 
Fille aux yeux d'or." I hâve finished a rather important 
work, entitled, " Melmoth réconcilié," and I am prepar- 
ing a great and beautiful work, called " Le Lys dans la 
Vallée," the figure of a charming woman, fuïl of heart 
and having a sulky husband, but virtuous. This will be, 
under a form purely human, terrestrial perfection, just as 
" Séraphita " will be celestial perfection. The " Lys dans 
la Vallée " is the last picture in the " Études de Mœurs," 
just as " Séraphita " will be the last picture in the " Études 
Philosophiques." Then, the third dizain. 

1 Ducat : gold coin, value from teu to twelve francs, according to 
country (Littré). — ïiî. 



250 Honore de Balzac. [isas 

You will hâve received the letter in which I tell you of 
my seclusion. It is cleep. No one cornes hère. No, 
no more Lormois. Why do you trouble yourself about 
tbings I pay no heed to? I hâve renounced pleasures. 
No more Opéra, no more Bouffons, no more anything ; 
solitude and work. Séraphita! There, will be my great 
stroke ; there, I shall receive the cold mockery of Pari- 
sians, but there, too, I shall strike to the heart of ail 
privileged beings. In it is a treatise on prayer, headed 
41 The Path to God," in which are the last words of the 
angel, which will surely give désire to live by the soûl. 
Thèse mystical ideas hâve filled me. I am the artist- 
believer. Pygmalion and bis statue are no longer a fable 
to me. iC Goriot" could be doue every day ; "Séra- 
phita " but once in a lifetime. 

So, then, since my last letter I hâve h ad no events in 
my material life, but many in the lit* e of my heart, because 
my heart is involved in this majestic occupation. 

I hâve to do the " Mémoires d'une jeune Mariée," a 
work in fil agrée, which will be a wonder to the littie 
women who find the pinions of u Séraphita " incom- 
préhensible. 

No, I cannot buy La Grenadière as yet; I need seven 
or eight tbousand francs for that, which I don't possess. 
Thougb my cane with its ebullition of turquoises bas 
made me notorious as a new Aboulcasem, I bave notb- 
iug but debts. When I am free of those, I will see about 
getting the money for La Grenadière. 

If I were in Vienna, I would make you laugh ; oh, yes ! 
I don't laugh now except with those who love me. Judge, 
therefore, bow precious our friendship lias become to me. 
Otber laughs are compromising. I am taken seriously ; 
so mucb so that Dantan lias caricatured me. Would you 
like to see it? I will send it with the volumes I bave for 
you. I bave never lost any time in transmitting to you 
those of my poor works that you bave the goodness to like. 



1835J Lctters to Madame Hanska. 251 

My sobriety and regularity of life can alone save me 
uncler the ardent work I hâve to complète to win that 
liberty so longed-for. It is now twenty days that I 
hâve risen at midnight and gone to bed at six o'clock. 
I shall persévère until I am delivered from the Bêchet 
contract, and the fourth Part is giveu to Werdet. 

I hope I can send the box to you April 17. I shall 
address it, in any case, to Baron Sina. 

Madame Delphine P . . . was at the Opéra Sunday, 
and gave'birth to a child Monday. 

I thank you for your glimpses of Viennese society. 
What I hâve learned about Germans in their relations 
elsewhere confirms what you say of them. Your story 
of General H . . . cornes up periodically. There lias 
been somethrhg like it in ail countries, but I thank 
you for having told it to me. The circumstances give it 
novelty. 

I- respect } T our wishes in sending you the manuscript of 
"Goriot" in its dirty condition. It bears the trace of 
many worries and much fatigue. 

Madame de Berny is a little better, but alas! this is 
only obtained by digitalis. I hope I may still keep that 
light of my life, that conscience so pure, that tenderness 
so délicate. 

Madame Carraud is safely confined of a son. 

I saw Borget this morning, returned from Italy, and I 
hâve your letter ; so this lias been a good day. 

Well, I must say adieu ; but remember that while writ- 
ing a book that bears your name, I do not quit you. 

The Emperor of Russia lias prohibited u Goriot ; " 
probably on account of Vautrin. 

There is pleasure in breaking ail one's bonds to society ; 
one lias no remorse ; society does not eling to you, and 
one can only pity those who cling to it. I am happy. I 
can march on in solitude, led by a beautiful and noble 
thought. 



252 Honore de Balzac. [1835 

I am sorry you hâve not seen the satirical préface I 
put to " Goriot;" you shall hâve it later. I won't make 
a package of that only. 

I hâve a hundred tliousand things to say, Lut wlien I 
begin to talk witli you I seem to see you ; I forget my 
ideas. Iïowever, I hiteud to begin a journal-ietter, and 
put in every day some of my ideas. 

At tins moment I am a little drunk with work ; my 
hand is tired; the lie art is full, but the head is empty ; 
you will get neitîier mind nor gaiety, but ail that affec- 
tion lias of truest, ail that memory has of freshest, and 
the tenderest gratitude. 

You ask me what becomes of Madame de Nucingen. 
She will be, and so will lier husband, a most comic 
dramatic personage in " Une Vue du Monde" long ad- 
vertised by the "Revue de Paris." It is called "La 
Faillite de M. de Nucingen." But I need time for ail 
thèse conceptions, and especially for tlieir exécution ; 
above ail when (as for Séraphita) I work often a year or 
two in thought before taking a peu. Adore mus ai œter- 
num means for me, " Toil ever." 

You speak of the stage. The stage might bring me in 
two hundred tliousand francs a year. I know, beyond a 
doubt, that I could make my fortune there in a short time; 
but you forget that I hâve not six months to myself, not 
one month ; and if I had I should not write a play, I 
should go and see you. Six months of my time represent 
forty thousand francs ; and I must hâve that money in 
hand before I can do either "La Grande Mademoiselle " 
or "Philippe le Discret." Wliere the devil am I to get 
it? Out of my ink-pot. There is no Léo X. in thèse 
day s. Work is the artist's bank. 

If you knew the annoyances that Madame Bechèt's 
business embarrassments cause me. She cannot pay unless 
my numbers appear. So, wlien I am inspired for "Sera- 
phita," wlien I listen to the music of angels, when I am 



1835] Letters tô Madame Hansha. 253 

sick with ecstasy, I must corne down to corrections, I 
must finish that stupidity " La Fille aux yeux d'or," etc. 
It is horrible suffering. I would like to do the comedy of 
" La Grande Mademoiselle," but no! I must work for 
Werdet, who is ripping himself open to give me the money 
for my payments, my livelihood. Honesty lias made 
a galley of my study. That is something you ought to 
know well. I hâve not a minute to myself, and I never 
take any distraction except when my brain cornes down 
like a foundered horse. 

You know ail that my heart contains of affection and 
good wishes for y ours. Affectionate compliments to 
M. Hanski, and take ail you will for yourself of my 
most devoted feelings. 

Grosclaude is coming to make my full-length portrait. 
I hâve never dared to ask for a sketch of yours. 

This is the dedication : — 

"Madame, — Iîere is the work you asked of me; and 
to you I dedicate it, happy in being able thus to prove 
the respectful and constant affection which you permit me 
to feel for you. But read it as some bad transcript of a 
li3 7 mn dreamed from my childhood ; the fervent rhythm 
of which, heard on the summits of the azuré mountains, 
and its prophétie poesy, revealed hère and there at times 
in Nature, it is impossible to présent in hum an language. 

" If I hâve risked being accused of impotence in thus 
attempting a sacred book w r hich demands the light of 
Orient beneath the translucent veil of our noble language, 
was it not you who urged me to the effort, by saying that 
the most imperfect drawing of that figure would still be 
something that would please you? Hère, then, it is, that 
something. I could wish that this book were read by 
none but minds preserved, like yours, from worldly petti- 
ness by solitude ; such as they alone know how to complète 
this poem; to them it may be, perhaps, a stepping-stone, 



254 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

or else a rough and humble flag on winch to kneel and 
pray within the temple ! 

"I am, with respect, your devoted servant/' 

Paris, Mardi 30, 1835. 

Do not be vexed with me for the irregularity of my 
letters. I am overwhelmed with work, and I feel the 
necessity of getting through with it if I want my dear 
liberty. Madame Bechet lias become singularly ill- 
natured and will hurt my interests much. In paying me, 
she charges me w T ith corrections which amonnt on the 
twelve volumes to three thousand francs, and also for my 
copies, wdiich will cost me fifteen hundred more. Thus 
four thousand five hundred francs iess, and my discounts, 
diminish by six thousand the thirty- three thousand. She 
could not lose a great fortune more clumsily, for TTerdet 
estimâtes at five hundred thousand francs the profits to be 
made ont of the next édition of the u Etudes de Mœurs." 

I find AVerdet the active, intelligent, and devoted editor 
that I want. I hâve still six months before I can be rid 
of Madame Bechet; for I hâve three volumes more to do, 
and it is impossible to count on less than two months to 
each volume. Thus you see I am held hère lill September. 
Between now and then I ought to give Werdet three Parts 
of the "Etudes Philosophiques," and do much work for 
the Revues. For the last twenty days I hâve worked 
steadily twelve hours a day on u Séraphita." The world 
is ignorant of this immense toil ; it only sees, and should 
only see, results. But I hâve had to master the whole of 
mysticism to formulate it. " Séraphita" is a consuming 
work for those who believe. Unhappily, in tliis sad 
Paris the Angel may chance to furnish the subject for a 
ballet. I shall meet with sarcas-m, but I will not go into 
society. I will stay hère tranquiliy and do cc La Fleur des 
Poix," "L'Enfant Maudit," " Sœur Marie des Anges," 
and "Les Mémoires d'une "jeune Mariée." 



1835] Letters to Madame Hansha. 255 

What lias tired me horribly the last few days is the re- 
printing of " Louis Lambert," wiiich I hâve tried to bring 
to a point of perfection that would leave me in peace as 
to that work ; and Lambert' s thoughts when he was at 
Villenoix remained to be done. I had put, as it were, a 
hat on that place to keep it, or the cover on a dish at a 
meal. Ilowever, it is ail done now ; it is a new formula 
for humanity, wilich is the tie that biuds u Louis Lam- 
bert " to " Séraphita." 

Next, I hav r e twenty days' work in remaking the " Com- 
tesse à deux Maris " [ u Colonel Chabert "]. I think it dé- 
testable, wanting in taste and truth ; and I hâve had the 
courage to begin it ail over again on the press. It was in 
that way I did my last work on the " Chouans." At 
tins rate my hair turns frightfully white. No, you will 
never recognize me. 

Madame de Berny is rather better, — much better, she 
says. But she still lias sudden attacks which show that 
the cause is tbere. I hâve wept much over her ; I hâve 
prepared myself for a grief which will act upon my whole 
life. In May I shall go and spend ,a month with her. 

I need seven or eight thousand francs to buy the Gre- 
nadière, and I cannot yet put my hand on that sum. If I 
finish ' c La Fleur des Poix " in April and go to Tonraine 
in May, I may possibly return with the sacred title of 
land-owner. On the 20th of May (my birthday) or the 
16th of May (my fête-day) we shall baptize my brother's 
child. I am godfather, with my nièce Sophie as god- 
mother. I always swore I would never be godfather to 
an y child ; but my brother is so unfortunate it is impossi- 
ble to refuse. I should like to complète the fête by 
buying the Grenadière. It would be a first sign of 
prosperity. 

I will put into my parcel of April 17th the two carica- 
tures of me in plaster by Dan tan, who lias caricatured ail 
the great men. The chief point of mine is the famous 



256 Honoré de Balzac, [1835 

cane bubbling with turquoise on a chasecl gold knob, 
which lias had more success in France than ail my works. 
As for me, lie lias caricaturée! my stoutness. I look like 
Louis XVIII. Thèse two caricatures hâve had such 
success that I hâve not as yet been able to get them. It 
is true that I go out little, and sit at my work for twenty 
hours. Y ou can't imagine what success this jewelled cane 
lias had ; it threatens to become European. Borget, who 
lias returned from Italy, and who did not say he was my 
friend, told me lie heard of it in Xaples and Rome. Ail 
the dandies in Paris are jealous, and the little journals 
hâve been supplied with items for six months. Excuse 
me for telling you tliis, but it seems to me it is biograph- 
ical ; and if they tell you on your travels that I hâve a 
fairy-cane, which summons horses, erects palaces, and 
spits diamonds, do not be surprised, but laugh as I do. 
Never did the tail of Alcibiades' dog wag barder. But I 
hâve three or four other tails of the saine kind for the 
Parisians. 

Oui* exhibition of paintings is quite fine this year. 
There are seven or eight leading masterpieces. Gros- 
claude's picture is much liked. Ile is honourably hung 
in the large Salon. But they think lie lias only colour 
and drawing, and lacks soûl and composition. Gérard, 
however, tliinks he is really a man of talent. Ile told him 
so sincerely; and repeated the same to me, adding t]iat 
tliere was nothing for a man like him to do but to produce; 
lie calls this a good and fuie picture. There is much good 
luck for him in appearing without disadvantage in the 
large Salon, where tliere are ten or twelve splendid pictures, 
There is a landscape by Brascassat in which is a bull, 
wliich conld be bought for six thousand francs, and m a y 
be worth a hundred thousand. It is, like Pagnest's 
" Portrait," the despair of artists. Brascassat is, like 
Pagnest, a poor young consumptive. He is a shepherd, 
takeu, like Foyatier the sculptor, from his flocks, and, if 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 257 

he lives, he will be a great painter. Oar nineteenth cen- 
tury will be great. We caunot doubt it. There is a 
déluge of talent hère. 

I regretted you much. I sbould bave liked to see you 
in Paris tbis wiuter. The Exhibition, and the Italian 
opéra hâve offered an unheard-of combination : Lablache, 
Tamburini, Rubini. Then Beethoven, executed at the 
Conservatoire as he is nowhere else. Besicles which, 
Paris is being cleaned and completed, thanks to Louis- 
Philippe's trowel. But there 's a hundred years' work still 
to do at the Louvre. When I pass along the quay of the 
Tuileries, my artist-heart bleeds to see the stones placed 
by Catherine de' Medici, eorroded by the sun before 
being carved — and this for three hundred years. 

Adieu î it is two in the morning. Hère is an hour and 
a half stolen from u Séraphita." She groans, she calls; 
I must finish lier, for the " Revue de Paris " groans too; 
it lias advanced me nineteen hundred francs, and 
" Séraphita" must settle the account. 

Adieu ! imagine how I think of you in finishing the 
work that is y ours. It is time it appeared. Literature 
hère has deeided that I shall never finish that work ; they 
say it is impossible. 

Graceful things to Anna, my respects to Mademoiselle 
SeVerine, my regards to M. Hanski ; and to you nothing, 
for ail is yours. It would be giving you a bit of your 
own property to sencl you anything, and I hâve, in this 
low world, too few friendships to diminish the truest of 
them ail. 

Paris, May 1, 1835. 

Madame, — I greeted M. le Prince de Schonberg as I 
never did any one, for he came from you. " Séraphita " 
exacts more work. I had hoped to send you the -manu- 
script by the prince, but it cannot be finished before my 
fête-day, May 16, and the prince starts to-day or to- 
morrow. I cannot even profit by bis journey to write 

17 



258 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

you in détail about my life and occupations. I hâve per- 
baps présumée! too far upon my strength in supposing I 
could do so many things in so little time. I shall be 
lucky indeed if I can get off and divert myself in Septem- 
ber. But nothing shall hinder me wben my obligations 
bave been met. 

Wben I bave finished with Madame Bêchet and Werdet, 
yes, tben I shall hâve six montbs before me. On tbat 
day I shall owe nothing to any one, for the approaching 
reissue of the " Études de Mœurs" enlarged by what will 
be added to them, will release me of ail, even my debt to 
my motber. Wealth will corne both for lier and for me, 
in 1837, wben my works will be issued as the " Etudes 
Sociales." There 's my future sketched ont. Tbere 's 
my hope and my toil. 

If sometimes the grief of not possessing the happiness 
tliat I dream saddens and consumes me, the hope of one 
day seeiug my motber bappy tlirough me. and my fortune 
built up, ail by myself, without help, susfains me. But 
what are the hopes of material life comparée! to the dis- 
appointment of the prayers of the heart? And so, now 
tbat I advance toward the graver life, and doubt at 
times of affections, finding myself so changed by toil, 
tbere corne moments of cruel melancboly and gray hours. 
Then the weather clears ; the azuré sky we saw upon the 
AIps cornes back ; Diodati, tbat image of a bappy life, 
reappears, like a star for a moment clouded, and I laugh 
— as you know I can laugh. I tell myself tbat so much 
work will bave its recompense, and tbat T si) ail some day 
bave, like Lord Byron, my Diodati, and 1 sing in my bad 
voice : " Diodati ï Diodati ! " 

What grief for me to delay tbat glorious apparition of 
wi Séraphita." I tremble lest you sbould bave left Vienna 
before the prince arrives tbere. But if so, Sina will 
forwnrd ail. 

Be bappy on your journey; may no untoward event 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska, 259 

distress you; return to your pénates, and I, under my 
pressure hère, I see that dwelling as an object . . . 
[The letter is unfiiiished.] 

Paris, May 3, 1835. 

I hâve this instant received yours of April 24. I hâve 
written you by the Prince de Schonberg, who was to carry 
to you ail that remains of the manuscript of the " Duchesse 
de Langeais," of which part was lost in the printing-offîce, 
the part I cared for most, that which I did in Geneva 
beside you, laughing and explaining to you proof 
corrections. 

How many things I hâve to answer in } 7 our last letter. 
But before doing so I must tell you something that is the 
best of ail answers. You do not leave till May 15th ; 
well, don't leave till the 25th. I hâve my passports, and 
you will receive my farewells. I cannot let you plunge 
back into your désert until I hâve pressed your hand. I 
will not commit to any one the manuscript of " Séra- 
phita." I shall bring it to you myself. I want ten days 
more to print the rest. The 16th, my fête-day, I shall 
start for Vienna ; I can get there in ten days ; I shall be 
there on the 25th or 26th. If I can arrive sooner, I 
shall be there sooner. Wait for me ; give crédit for ten 
days to a friend. I shall stay four days in Vienna, see 
Essling and Wagram, and return. 

I cannot tell you more, for I must spend the days and 
nights in getting ail things in order hère, and in finish- 
ing the books begun. "Séraphita" must hâve eight 
days and nights for herself alone. 

I say nothing to M. Hanski, as I shall see you ail so 
soon. T am joyous as a child at the escapade. Quit my 
galiey and see new lands ! Well, well, à bientôt. I send 
my things to Sina. Ask him, if they arrive before me, to 
wait till I corne before opening my trunk at the custom- 
house. It is proper that you should see the cane for 
which you blâme me, and I confide it to the customs. 



260 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

Addio. Kiss Anna on the forehead for lier horse. 

Vienna, May, 1835. 

Can you lend me your valet de place again this morn- 
ing? — for I stiil hâve not obtained one. 

I tbink you liave not read ik Obermann; " I send it to 
you; but I shall want it in two or tbree days. It is one 
of the tin est books of the period. 

A tbousand beart compliments. 

Vienna, May, 1835. 
My cold is precisely tbe same. It is notbing at ail. 
I bave just received a letter froin M. llammer. I tbink 
lie is annoyed, for be uses towards me tbat wealth of 
civility whieh is often tbe irony of great soûls. 

Did you know tbat tbe Frencb are very covstumiers to 
tbe faet of bartering Austrian uniforms against vie- 
tories, but tbat this ruins young empires? 

I shall stay in town only tbe time necessary to fui fil 
your Majesty's orders. 

I entreat you don't worry about me. People are 
never ili when tbey are bappy. I do notbing; I let my- 
self go to tbe happiness of living, and tbat is so rare 
with me tbat when it is so 1 don't know what could burt 
me. 

A tbousand beart assurances. 

Yienxa, May, 1S35. 

The beat bas so prostrated me tbat I don't know wbat 
will become of me; but as for the illness itself, it bas 
ceased. A tbousand thanks for your kindness. 

I shall rush witb the celerity of your valet, who is a 
véritable kid, and this is difïieult for a Mar [Balzac's 
nickname among bis friends was Do m ]Mar] whose 
paunch is worthy of ail the illustrious paunches your 
cousin used to laugh a t. 

I bave dreamed ta, I bave dreamed fi, I bave dreamed 



1835] Letters to Madame Ifanska. 261 

tchef, and of his casalba. I bave corne to breathe in the 
Walter-garten, and I send you "Lauzun" to convince 
you of the reality of the comedy tbat could be made of 
his amours with Mademoiselle, for I think you do not 
know the book. 

Vienna, May, 1835. 

You know, madame, that if anything can equal the 
respectf ul attachment that I feel for you it is the will 
that I a m forced to display to keep within the limits 
that my work imposes on my pleasures. 

Hère, as in Paris, my life must be completely inhar- 
mouioiis with the life of society. To get my twelve 
hours of work, I must go to bed at nine o'clock in order 
to rise at three; and this truly monastic rule, to which I 
a m compelled, dominâtes everything. I hâve yielded 
something of my stern observance to you, by giving 
myself three hours' more freedom bere than in Paris, 
where I go to bed at six; but that is ail I can do. 

However sweet and gracious are the invitations, and 
however flattering the eagerness of which I feel the full 
value, I am obligée! to be the enemy of my dearest 
pleasures. You know that the persons who love me, and 
who bave every right to be exacting, conforrn to my ways 
of going nowherej and treat me as a spoilt cbild. 

Thèse explan ations bave a conceited aspect which I 
dislike, and which would make me ridiculous if you did 
not constrain me to give my true reasons. 

So, I count upon your precious friendsbip to explain 
them, and save me from tbeir accompanying dangers. 
You hâve long known that I am a soldier on a battle- 
field, swept onward, without otber liberty than that of 
flghting the enemy and ail the diffîculties of my position. 

You will give — will you not? — what value you can to 
my regrets, and I sball thus bave anotber obligation to 
add to the bundred thousand I already owe you. But 



262 Honoré de Balzac, }isa5 

you aie so noble there is no fear in being indebtcd lo 
you. 

Yes, I ara altogether better. I hâve recovered from 
the fatigues of the journey, and 1 thank you from tiie 
bottom of m y heart for you r dear and délicate attentions. 
A thousand afïectionate compliments to M. Ilanski. As 
for you, I should hâve to express too niany things, and, 
as you see, paper is lacking. Iiere begin the thîngs of 
the heart. 

Viknna, Ma\, 18:35. 

It is impossible forme to woik if 1 hâve to go ont, 
and I never work merely for an hour or frwo. You 
arranged so well that 1 did not go to bed till one 
o'clock. Consequently, I did not rise till eight; so from 
nine till one 1 lune oniy time to pay you a visit in order 
to put the visit to the prince between two good things 
wkich may weaken the diplomatie iniluence. 

J want to go and see the Prater in the morning, in ils 
solitude. If you will, it would be very gracions; for 
l)y not beginning on the u Lys dans la Vallée " till 
to-morrow I must then work fourteen hours to make up 
for time lost. I hâve sworn to myself to do that work 
in Vienna, or else — throw ni3 T self into the Danube. 

So, in twenty minutes I shall be with you to ask 
counsel. As for the séductions of the- prince, lie caught 
me once, but I hâve too much pride to be caught again-; 
I should pass for a ninny. 

A thousand heart-felt regards. 

Vilvna, May, 1835. 
I am incapable of writing the notldngs that I see 
corne naturally to very intelligent persons; 1 simply put 
down just what cornes into my head ; and what came 
into my head was one of the things that I hâve at heart. 
Excuse me to the countess, and assure lier that this is 
the second time I hâve failed over an album, and that 



1835] Letters to Madame Ha?iska. 263 

not having the habit — ancl even having a horror — of 
them, I hope she will be indulgent to me. 

Though I am not dirty, I am decidedly stupid, for I 
don't understancl a word of what y ou do me the honour 
to say about Madame Sophie. I entreat you, hâve pity 
on my mental infirmities, and, when you make romances, 
put them on the level of my intellectual faculties. This 
•may seem impertinent — it is only artless. 

I hâve still another hour to work, and then I will 
corne. I am busy with planning rallier than writing, 
and I can see you whlle thhiklng ; which is not the 
same as thinking of other things than you while seeing 
you. 

A thousand gracions and humble thonghts before your 
August Despotism. 

Vienna, May, 1835. 

I cannot wait till one o'clock to know if you are 
better, whether your hoarseness and oppression hâve 
lessened, whether the foot-bath was efficaeious — in 
short, whether ail is well. Hâve the charity to send me 
a word on thèse important matters — for it is important 
to subjects to know how their princes are. 

Aft'ectionate compliments, and accept my obeisances 

Vienna, Jime, 1835. 

You know well, my dear beloved, that my soûl is not 
narrow enough to distinguish w r hat is yours from what 
is mine. Ail is ours — • heart, soûl, body, sentiments, 
ail, from the least word to the slightest look ; from life 
to death. But do not ruin us, for I should send you 
back a hundred Austrians for your one, and you w T ould 
cry out at the folly. 

My Eve, adored, I hâve never been so happy, I hâve 
never suffered so much. A heart more ardent than the 
imagination is vivid is a fatal gift w T hen complète hap- 
piness cloes not quench the daily thirst. I knew what I 



264 Honoré île Bahae. [1835 

came to seek of sufferings, and I hâve fourni them. In 
Paris, thèse sufferings seemed to me the greatest of 
pi ea sures, and I was not mistaken. The two parts are 
equal. 

For this you had to ]>e more lovely, and nothing is 
truer. Yesterday you were enough to render mad. If 
I did not know that we are bound forever, I should 
die of grief. Therefore, never abandon me; it would be* 
murder. Never destroy the confidence which is our sole 
complète possession in this love so pure. Hâve no 
jealousies, which never hâve foundation. You know how 
faithful the unluippy are; feelings are ail their treasure, 
their fortune, and we cannot be more unhappy than we 
are hère. 

Nothing can detaeh me from you; you are my life, 
my happiness, ail my hopes. I beiieve in life only with 
you. What can you fear? My toil proves to you my 
love; it was preferring the présent to the future to corne 
hère now; it was the folly of impassioned love, for by 
it I postponed for many monfhs, that 1 might enjoy this 
moment, the days when you think we shall be free — 
more free, for free, oh! I dare not think of that. God 
must will it! 1 love you so much, and ail things unité 
us so truly that it must be; but when? 

A thousand kisses ; for I hâve a thirst those little 
sudden pleasures but increase. We hâve not an hour, 
nor a minute. And thèse obstacles fan such ardour 
that, believe me, I do right to hasten my departure. 

I press you on ail sides to my heart, where you are 
held but mentally. Would that 1 held you there living! L 

1 This letter in îtself shows the falseuess of tliose which purport to 
hâve heen written in January, February, and Mardi. It is that of a 
inan trne to himself in one of the L'rcatest stru^gles of huraanity ; for, 
it must be remembered, such trials were not négative in a man of 
Balzac's nature. — Tk. 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 2G5 

Munich, June 7, 1835. 

I arrivée! hère in Munich at eleven o'clock last night; 
but I might hâve corne in thirty-six hours instead of 
forty-eight if it had not been for three bad postilions, 
whom no human power could make go, and who, each of 
tlrem, lost me three hours apiece. I slept seven hours, 
and hâve just waked to keep the promise I made of 
writing you a Une. Then, at ten o'clock, after seeing 
the exterior of the public buildings, I shall start again 
with the same celerity. 

I hâve nothing romantic to tell you of the journey, 
always sad on leaving kind friends. I had no other 
adventure than two horses accustomed to fetch sand, 
who nearly flung me into a quarry, the postilion being 
unable to prevent them from keeping to their habits. I 
jumped out in tirne, and began, like the horses, to go 
back to Vienna; but it was proved to the horses, by 
the whip, that they had to go to Hohenlinden, and to 
me, by necessity, that I had to go to Paris. The 
postilion was afraid I should scold him. But he did not 
know that the horses and I were equally faithful to oui- 
habits in spite of duty. I made many sad rerlections on 
the manner in which horses and men hâve no liberty, on 
the various curbs that are put upon them, on the blows 
of fate, and the lashing of whips. But I spare you ail 
that. You will tell me that my sadness is too humorous 
to be believed; wdiereas, in me, great disappointed affec- 
tions turn always to a sort of rage, which I express by 
expending it on some one, as I did Thursday evening at 
Prince R . . .'s, where, because I could not do what I 
wished, I talked magnetism. 

In heaven's name, don't forget, I entreat you, to 
explain to M. Vatischef how it happened that he received 
neither my carrî nor my visit; you do not know how 
much I care about fiOfilling the duties of politeness 
punctually. 



2G6 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

Though I did not like your valet de place, lie was 
useful to me on several occasions. I ga\e money to alJ, 
except to him, and lie was not tbere. Do me tbc kind- 
ness to give him a ducat for me. I will return it in my 
next letter. One sbould be neitber unjust nor forgelful. 
Otberwise, notbing is ever great. 

I sbould bave liked to go tbrongh Munich without 
stopping; but you asked me to write you a line froni 
hère, and so I bave stopped. I don't like to stop in 
this way. ïbe noise and motion of tbe carnage, tbe 
business of paying, and of making tbe postilions get on, 
ail divert and excite me. But to stop is to think; and 
there are but sad thoughts on leaving you. 

Don't you recognize me, tbe man of debts, in my 
leaving two bebind me for you to pay — Koller and tbe 
valet de place? Ask M. Hanski to tell tbe carriage- 
maker not to take me for a swindler, and to give me 
crédit till my return, an epocb at winch I will order a 
carriage. You see I mean to return soon. 

Well, adieu until Paris; there, I will give you my 
news. Meanwhiie aecept a tbousand tender thanks. 

Pauls, Juiig 12, 1835. 

I arrived on tbe llth, at two in tbe morning. 8o, 
deducting tbe time I stayed in Munich, I did tbe journey 
in five days. But I am sure now that it can be doue in 
four, and that I can go in elevcn days to Wierzchownia. 

I arrived borribly tired, brown as a negro, aud only 
able to fling myself on a bed and sleep. I write to you 
this evening, according to promise. 

You will receive from M. de la Rochefoucauld (to 
whom I beg you to write a line) by tbe first embassy 
opportunity, — that of Austria, if M. le Comte Maurice 
Esterhazy is a good fellovv, and will do me this service, 
— a parcel containing, first, "Le Père Goriot," tbird 
édition, in tbe first volume of wbich you will iind a peu- 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 267 

holder wortby of you, and in the second volume a paper- 
knife to thank you for the one you gave me; second, a 
copy of the " Livre des Conteurs," in which is "Melmoth 
réconcilié. ^ 

I will attend to your pearls at the earliest moment. 

I find my affairs in horrible disorder. Werdet had 
paid the bill of exchange, but he had not beeu able to 
pay my notes falling due on the 15th and the olst of 
May, so that my sister, to whom such affairs are not 
familiar, being terrified, took — not my diamonds, but — 
my silver-ware and pawned it. So now I must work 
night and day to repair the stupidities they hâve done 
me. 

I bave therefore three or four months at "hard labour," 
during which 1 must ask you to hâve indulgence for me. 
I can't write to you as often as I would like. I must 
produce, one after another, "Le Lys," "Les Mémoires 
d'une jeune Mariée," the Part for Werdet, and that foi- 
Madame Bêchet. They are ail complaining of me 
horribly. But feel no remorse; I shall never regret the 
journey, however short it was, nor, above ail, the time, 
brief as it was, society left us to ourselves. 

I am not pleased with Munich. There are too many 
frescos, and too many bad frescos. Those of the upper 
ceiling of the Pinakothek, and those of the lower halls 
of the Kœnigsbaugh(?), are alone of value. Ail the 
rest is not above the level of our café décorations in 
Paris. 

Adieu, for to-day. Kiss Anna's pretty little knuckles 
for me, offer my regards to M. Hanski, and recall me to 
the memory of ail about you. 

You will find the ducat for Jean, the valet de place, in 
the iîrst volume of "Père Goriot." 



268 Honore de Balzac. [1835 

Ciiaillot [Vue des Batailles], July 1, 1835. 

What I seud you will decidedly be subjected to tbe 
chances that politics may bave of sending a courier to 
M. de la Rochefoucauld ; for tbe lucky attaché was mar- 
ried and gone before L knew it. 

Since 1 last wrote you time bas elapsed ; but that time 
was taken up by enormous troubles, sucb as whiten or 
thiii tbe bair. The person who is witb ni y mother writes 
me, confidentially, that it is a question of saving lier 
life or lier reason, for that if she does not die, grief 
may make ber crazy. My brother, incapable in every 
way, reduced to tbe deepest di stress, talks of blowing 
ont bis brains, instead of trying to do sometbing for 
bimself. M y sister is in a state that grows worse; lier 
illness had made frightful advances. Ail tbis is killing 
my mother. 

So, in four days there is added to the dilîiculties 
created by my journey, my finaneial crisis and delayed 
work, that of two existences to guide and providentially 
ma nage! 

Jt is a gloomy evening. I am seatcd at my window; 
T bave gazed through space at tbe lands I bave just 
quitted, and where I went to seek, near you, y ont h, 
rest, strength — to refresh both heart and bead, to forget 
the hell of Paris; and sitting hère, a few tears fall. I 
measure tbe extent of tbe abyss; I weigh the bnrden; 1 
seek in the depths of my heart the corner where lies the 
principle of my power; and I resign myself. Of thèse 
great scènes, the secret lies between God and ourselves. 
My God! — If you could see me you would knowwh}^ I 
was so sad in leaving you, you would comprebend the 
meaning of what I said when I crïed ont with apparent 
gaiety: "I go to plunge back into the vat and renew 
my miseries." 

liy what sweet destiny is it tbat for two y cars past I ow r e 
to you the only calm and peneeful intervais in my life? 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 269 

Now, I hâve begun to rai se a barrier, not to be sur- 
mounted, between m y mother and ber cbildren, between 
ber and tbe vvorld of self-interests that corne roaring 
round ber. I bave seeured to ber tbe peace and calni- 
ness of ber retreat. Next, I bave formed a plan of 
liquidation for my brotber, and anotlier plan to provide 
for two years for bis family subsistance. In fifteen 
days ail tbis will be settled. Tben in tbe course of 
tbose two years I sball be able to fine! bim a position. 

If you will tbink for a moment tbat small interests 
are more complicated and more diffîcult to bandie than 
great ones, you will divine tbe goings and comings, tbe 
dilliculties,. tbe conférences of ail tbis. I bad my own 
financial crisis to overcome. Tbe continuai calumnies 
in tbe newspapers piling lampoons upon me — tbat I 
bad absconded, tbat I was in Sainte-Pélagie — found 
credence in tbe stupid part of Paris; and tbat belief bas 
paralyzed tbe resources of crédit tbat I bad. But, at 
tbe bour of my présent writing I bave vanquisbed ail for 
myself as well as for my mother and for my brotber. 
Still a day or so, and I sball be astride of tbe prettiest 
winged courser I ever mounted in tbe fields of tbe classic 
valley; and I sball tire away in both Revues in July and 
August, wbile my two Parts — of tbe "Etudes de Mœurs " 
and tire "Etudes Philosophiques" — will appear simul- 
taneously. The purely pecuniary damage clone by my 
journey will be repaired. Tben I sball work deliciously 
once more, tbinking that my rewaj'd will be tbe journey 
to Wierzcbownia without a care. 

It was under thèse circumstances that I busied myself 
•aboutyour paper-knife and your pen-bolder; I thought 
tbose trilles would be tbe dearer to you, and that M. 
Hanski would suffer friendship to impinge upon bis 
rights. So, into tbe midst of my troubles a sweet 
thought glided when I went to Lecointe, tbe je well er. 
Ob! préserve me, very pure and very brigbt, tbat afïec- 



270 Honore de Balzac. [1835 

tion wbich, y on see, is a source of consolation amid tbe 
tortures of life. 

I présume your long silence cornes from your journey 
to Ischl. Nevertheless, I liad news of you yesterday. 
It was not good. Fi'om tbe 27th to the 28th you were 
ill, harassed. You saw Madame de Lucchesi-PalH 
[Duchesse de Berry]. A somnambulist whoin I had 
put to sleep told me tliat. S lie niiist bave told tlie 
tnith, for she spoke of certain annoyances wbich you 
feel, and of wbich she could know nothing except from 
you. The last experiments that I bave made hère in 
Paris since my return décide me to always bave som- 
nambulists at hand. Tbis one told me tha,t you wrote 
to Paris (or intended to write to Paris; for information 
about me. But she saw tbis so conf usedly that it proved 
nothing clearly. 8be tbought your beart was laiger than 
it ought to be, and advised me earnestly to teli you to 
avoid pain fui émotions and live calmly; but she said 
tbere was no danger. Your beart is, likc your forehead, 
an organ largely developed. I was much moved when 
she said to me with that solemn expression of somnam- 
bulists: "Thèse are persons very much attached to you, 
who love you ver} 7 truly." 

AVhat an imposing and awful powerî To know what 
is passing in tbe soûl of others at a great distance! To 
know wbat they do! I will try to give you a proof of 
tins. Tell M. Ilanski to write me a letter, calculate tbe 
day I shall receive it, and tben remember ail lie says, 
and does, and thinks on that day, so that lie may know 
whether I, in Paris, bave seen Ischl. It will be tbe 
finest of our experiments. A month hence I shall bave 
several somnambulists. It is one means not to be 
cheated by any one. I bave nothing of Anna's, so I 
cannot know anything about lier. If you are curious to 
consult, send me a little pièce of linen or cotton, which 
you must put on lier stomach during the night, and 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 271 

wbich she must put herself (witbout any one touching it) 
iiito a paper which she must put inside your letter. 

I hâve to-day resumed m y greàt labours. Madame 
de Castries seems satisfied with wbat 1 did for her; but 
I did vvell to put my relations with her on the footing of 
social politeness. If you bave read, or if you sbould 
read "Leone Léoni," you must know tbat Madame 
Dudevant has been far beneath d'U . . . , the husband 
of the Wallachian. I bave heard strange tbings about 
tbat bousebold, but I cannot write tbem; they go beyond 
the limits of a letter. I will keep tbem for an evening 
at Wierzcbownia. Good God! wbat a life! 

Yesterday the most horrible thing happened to me. 
You know, or you don't know, tbat waiting in expecta- 
tion is dreadf ul torture to me. Sandeau went to the rue 
Cassini, and there heard that a package had corne 
by post from Vieima, and, the postage being tbirty-six 
francs, llose had refused to take it in, not having 
the money. My head gave way. I felt tbat no one but 
you could be sending to me from Vienna. I sent 
Auguste ofï in a cabriolet, told him where to get the 
money, and to bring me the package, living or dead. 
Auguste was gone four hours. I was four hours in hell, 
inventing dramas. Wbat do you suppose he brought? 
That copy of u Père Goriot," which I asked you to give 
to any one who might like it, and it was returned to me 
from Vienna! — b} 7 the post! They may refuse me 
entrance to paradise, "Philippe le Discret" may be a 
failure — such would be mère misfortunes, but this! I 
did as the possessor of slippers did in the Arabian 
Nights, — I burned that copy lest it might cause me 
some other misfortune. 

I hâve hnd another grief. A little Savoyard, whom T 
call Anchises [Grain-de-mil], who was zeal, discrétion, 
nonesty, intelligence personified, — my little groom, to 
whom I was singularly attached, — died at the Hôtel- 



272 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

Dieu on tbe twenty-first clay after an opération performed 
by M. Houx, Dupuytren's suecessor, and done with great 
suceess, — tbe removal of a large tuinour on tbe knee. 
The-putrid reaction of so large a wound set in violently. 
I am grieved. Ile decided on tbe opération, winch 
became necessary in my absence, in order that I mi g ht 
lind bim cured and relieved of an infirmity wbich would 
in tbe end bave carried hiin off. Poor child! ail those 
who knew bim regret bim; bepleased every one. 

After a few more words to you I must go and put 
myself to fmisbing " l'Enfant Maudit." I am in a suitable 
frame of mind to do that work of melancholy. Now that 
I bave returned to my life of eighteeu hours' daily toil I 
shah 1 write you a species of journal every day, and send 
you the whole weekiy. Tbis is written Sunday, June 28, 
twenty-four days after leaving you, and fifteen days since 
1 last wrote to you. lUit thèse fifteen days bave bcen 
fatally full of griefs, occupations, and dilliculties of ail 
sorts; sucb things cannot bc told. It would need volumes 
to explain wbat is doue and tbougbt in an hour. You 
bave it in bulk. AVerdet bas been to London to see about 
our counterfeits and translations. 

Monday, 29. 

It was midnigbt wben I finished. I said adieu to you 
in my beart and went to bed. I sbould like to change 
sometbing in my way of life. I sbould like to get up 
at four in the morning, and go to bed at nine in the 
evening. I would then sleep seven hours and work 
iifteen. It is difficult to change, for my hours are so 
inverted. 

Hère Auguste cornes in and tells me that ail the 
arrangements I bad made for my payments to-morrow, 
oOtb, are overturned by a discounter who sends me back, 
not accepting it, a note of Spachmann's for one thou- 
sand francs. So I must dress and rush ont. Conceive 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 273 

of such a lifeî I was about to begin, in peace, a work 
of melancholy, and hère 's a bombshell fallen into my 
studyî But it is not a despatch I bave to write, and I 
can't say, like Charles XII.", "What bas a bombshell to 
do with L'Enfant Maudit? " Adieu, for to-day. 

Tuesday, 30. 

I got to bed late, but I managed my affair and shall 
bave the money, less a few ducats, to-day. 

In my tramps I went to see a somnambulist ; she told 
me you were on the road to Ischl, thus contradieting the 
other, who said you had seen Madame Lucehesi-Palli. 
But I know how tins happened. It would take too long 
to explain it to you. I bave, unfortunately, too little time 
to myself to study thèse effects according tomy new ideas, 
and to classify my observations. The difficulty of get- 
ing subjects, the neeessities imposée! on a magnetizer, ail 
interfère with what I would like to do. Hère, as in the 
case of writing a play, one must hâve time and quiet; 
now time and quiet are for me the two causes of fortune, 
and fortune is that winch stops me in ail things. Reca- 
pitulation made: I must bave a year of toil and much 
luck in that toi! to be entirely free and liberated. 

Well, adieu ; I hâve before me one whole month of 
tranquiility, for I bave nothing to pay before July 31. 

Mon Dieu ! how I wish I had two good somnambulists ! 
I should know every morning how you are, what you are 
doing; and tins small satisfaction joined to my constant 
work would keep me happy. 

July lst. 

Yesterday I had to rush about to complète the pay- 
ments, which was only doue this morning. Thèse 30ths 
of a month bring strange commotions ! 

To-night I am very sad. The east wind blows, I hâve 
no strength. I hâve not yet recovered my power of 
work; I hâve neither inspiration nor anything fructify- 

18 



274 Honoré de Balzac. [1833 

ing. Nevertheless, the neeessity is great. 1 shall take 
to coffee again. When one lias no illusions as to famé 
and looks for one's reward elsewhere, it is very grievous 
to be alone with one's work. 

A thousand tender affections. Write me often, for 
yoar writing is a talisman. Y ou know what belongs to 
ail tliose about you. Don't walk too mucb, only a little. 
At Jsclil the air suflices. Besides, a carnage in any case 
suits you best ; I bave observed that ; so the great doctor 
says : " No more walking." 

Ciiaillot, July 18, 18.35. 

I hâve no time to write to you. Calumny lias ruined 
my crédit. Men who would never bave tbouglit of com- 
mg to ask for money and everybody else liave swooped 
down upon me. My omnipotent peu must coin money; 
and yet nothing must be sacrificed to neeessity at the ex- 
pense of art. Uo you know what I am doing? 1 am 
working twenty-four hours running. Then I sleep live 
hours ; which gives me twenty-one hours and a half to 
work per day. 

Y'our letter grieves me, for you make me responsible 
for Liszt's letter. Mon Dieu ! how is it that with such a 
splendid forehead you can think little things. I do n<jt 
understand why, knowing my aversion for George Sand, 
you make me ont lier friend. 

You bave not given me your address at Isclil. I send 
this to Sina. Pray let me know how long you stay there, 
that I may send you a package of books. " Louis 
Lambert" is finished. I bave also finished a volume 
for Madame Bechet, and in eight days more I shall 
hâve only two to finish. Werdet will also get bis two 
Parts of the u Etudes Philosophiques" within twenty 
days. I go on by the grâce of God ; when I fall — 
well, I shall bave fallen ; but one must fight and grow 
greater. 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 275 

You tell me to write to the Countess Loulou. 1 But 
how can I? Explain to her yourself my involuntary 
tardiness. T can't attend to my own affairs, I do not go 
out, I only write pages. In ail conscience, I cannot seek 
for the impossible. No one hère would accept the small 
salary the prince offers and three liundred francs for the 
journey ! A reader who Jcnows liow to read is not an or- 
dinary m an, and y et the prince dénies him a seat at his 
table. A m an of intelligence can earn more hère than 
three hundred francs a month by literature, and to read 
welî is literature. I do not undertake the impossible. 
Every one, even those who die of hunger, laugh in my 
face. Leave Paris for Vienna for such pay as thatî They 
had rather die of hunger in Paris, w r ith hopes, than live 
without cares elsewhere. I will write to the princess and 
to the countess when I can, but I must provide for the 
defence of ail points attacked, and I am flring from the 
three batteries of the Revues and my u Etudes." 

Tell the countess that the novel by Madame de Girardin, 
" Tlie Marquis de Pontanges," is worth reading. It is 
the only one in six months. 

Adieu ; I will write when I hâve doue something, and 
obtained results which will put your soûl at rest about 
my works and my vigils. Thèse stiivings of a man with 
his" thought, ink, and paper, hâve nothing very poetic 
about them. It is silence ; it is obscurity. Lassitude, 
efforts, tension, headaches, weariness, ail go on between 
the four walls of that rose-and-white boudoir which you 
know by its description in the u Fille aux yeux d'or." 
And I hâve nothing to console me but that distant affec- 
tion, — which is angry with me at Ischl for a few words 
written foolishly while I was in Vienna, — and the pros- 
pect of going to seek harshness at Wierzchownia, when 1 

1 Countess Louise Turheim, chanoinesse, whose brother-in-law, 
Prince Rasumofski, had asked Balzac to send Mm a reader from 
Paris. 



21 (j Honoré de Balzac. L1835 

shall be, in six or seven months, dying as a resuit of my 
efforts! I ougbt to say, like some général, I don't know 
wlio, ■• A few more such vie tories and we are beaten." 

Adieu ; I kiss Anna on the forehead, and senti you and 
M. Ilanski a tiiousand assurances of affection. Tbink 
of me as înucli as I thiuk of you ; that will content me. 
But froni you no letter since Juue 2ij, aiid hère it is 
July 18. You are punishing me. 

Paris, August 11, 1835. 

I hâve just returned frour l>erry, where 1 went to see 
Madame Carrand, wlio liad something to say to me, and 
l find on my return your last letter, the one in which you 
speak of the visit you paid to Madame [the Duchesse de 
Berryj at the moment when oui* newspapers were repre- 
senting lier as inventing the infernal machine of Fieschi 
and awaiting ils success at Aix, where she conferred 
about it with Berrycr ! Try to govern a people wlio, for 
twenty-four hours and over two hundred square leagues, 
can be made to beiieve such things as that ! 

You complain very amiably of the rarity of my letters, 
but you know I write as often as T can. I work now 
twenty hours a day. Can I endure it? I do not know. 

I do not understand why you did not receive my parcel. 
The Austrum embassy took it under their protection, and 
it is addressed to M. de la Rochefoucauld. Inquire for'it, 
1 l)eg of you. 

I am surprised at your enthusiasm for Lherminier. It 
is plain that yoa liave not read his otlier works. They 
hâve prevented me from reading u Au delà du Ehin," the 
fragments of which published in the 4C Revue des Deux 
.Mondes " did not seem to me very strong. Do not con- 
found Lherminier and Capefigue with the roses and lilies. 
Leave them among the thistles, which are dear, for more 
reasons than one, to their Excelleneies. Y"ou will oblige 
me to read "Au delà du Rhin; " but I fear — in spite 
of your fine forehead. 



1835] Letters to Madame ITanska. 277 

I did not " chant marvels " to you about Madame 
de Grirardin's book. It is better tban what she has so far 
done; it is not a very remarkable work, but it is literature, 
and not dogmatic politics. 

Mon Dieu ! hâve I not already written to you that the 
two somnambulists forbid you to walk? Why, then, do 
you walk? 

Your letter saddens me ; it seems cold and indiffèrent, 
as if the ice on which thrones rest had invaded you. I like 
it better when you quarrel with me, find fault with me. 
If you do not stay long in Vienna, how shall I send you 
the manuscripts of u Séraphita," and the " Lys dans la 
Vallée" ? The end of "Séraphita" will not appear in 
the " Revue de Paris " till the third, or perhaps fourth 
Sunday in October. If you leave, give me some cer- 
tain address at Brody ; you will there find the precious 
package. 

Mon Dieu! I need an almost exaggerated tenderness on 
the part of my friends, for I assure you that a cruel con- 
viction is laying hold of me : I do not hope to bear up 
under such heavy toil. One may indeed be broken down 
by violent efforts in art, sciences, and letters, and in this 
increase of labor which has come npon me, driven as I am 
by necessity, nothing sustains me. Work, always work ; 
nights of flame succeeding nights of flame, days of médi- 
tation to days of méditation, exécution to conception, con- 
ception to exécution. Little money in comparison with 
what I need, immensity of money in relation to the thing 
done. If each of my books were paid like those of Walter 
Scott, I could bring myself safely out of this. But, al- 
though well paicl, I do not come out of it. I shall hâve 
earned twelve thousand francs in August. The "Lys" 
has brought me eight thousand, — half from the " Revue 
des deux Mondes," half from the publishers. The article 
in the " Conservateur " will receive three thousand francs. 
I shall hâve finished " Séraphita," begun the "Mémoires 



278 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

d'une jeune Mariée," and finished the last Part for Ma- 
dame Béchet. I don't know that brain, peu, and hand bave 
ever done such a feat of strengtb. And there exists a 
dear person, sacredly beloved, who coin plains that the 
correspondence languishes, although I answer scrupulously 
ail her letters. 

It is impossible for me to speak to you in letters of 
Fiesehi and liis machine. The wise men in politics, and 
I myself, who am not without a certain gift of second- 
sight, believe that it is neither the Republic nor Carlism 
which is the author of the attempt. Fiasrhl lias told noth- 
ing ; of that you may be sure. lie will probably never 
speak. Lisfranc, the surgeon, who is taking care of hiin 
in prison, told tins to my sister whom lie is attend ing. 
Ile lias had much money given him. Perhnps lie himself 
does not know wlio made him act. 

I am on the eve of beginning a political existence. I 
am covvardly enough to wish to holcl back in order not to 
risk my journey to Wierzchownia. Tlie two Revues 
form a large party, for the ' w Revue des Deux Mondes " 
has fifteen hmidred subscribers, five hundred being in 
Europe ; it becomes, therefore, a power. Tliey unité in 
me, take me as liead, for I hâve vanquished many men 
and things. by my Bedouck ! They support me. I sliall 
make two other newspapers. That will give us four, and 
we are to-day in treaty for a fifth ! AVe think of calling our- 
selves the party of the Intell i<jentbds, a name which lends 
itself but little to ridicule, and will constitute a party to 
w^hich many will feel flattered to belong. To be head of 
this in France, that is worth thinking of . For a long time 
thèse principal lines of our work hâve been discussed 
between me and a man powerful by his will, who organ- 
ized four years ago and directed the tc Revue des Deux 
Mondes" [Charles Rabou]. We hâve had several con- 
férences. The two newspapers, the two Revues enable 
us to skim the cream of the salons, to assimilate them, 



1835] Letters to Madame Banska. 279 

to unité the seriously able intellects; and nothing ean 
resist this amicable league of a press which will hâve 
nothing blind, nothing disorganized about it. 

You see that as I advance in my own work I act on ano- 
ther and parallel line, important and broader ; in a word, I 
s hall not stop short in politics any more than in literature. 
Time presses, events are complicating. I- should hâve 
been stopped for want of a hundred thousand francs ; but 
I think I am about to write a drama, under the name of 
my future secretary, to procure them. I must be done 
with this money question which strangles me. 

You see that, in spite of your coldness, I keep you in- 
formed of the great opérations of your devoted moujik. 
But if the law passes, the new law which requires that 
political articles be signed, I shall hâve to renounce a 
great deal in order to go to Paulowska. In short, we 
cannot hâve intellect for nothing ! 

To speak to you of my every-day affairs would be to 
tell you of too many great mise ries. I hâve always an 
infinité number of errands, goings and comings to pay 
my notes and meet my engagements, without ever being 
able to end them. In Paris everything involves a fright- 
ful loss of time, and time is the great material of which 
life is made. 

So ; when I am bending over my paper in the light of 
my candies in the salon of the " Fille aux yeux d'or," or 
lying, weary, on the sofa, I am breathless with pecuniary 
difficulties, sleeping little, eating little, seeingnoone, — in 
short, like a republican gênerai making a campaign with- 
out bread, without shoes. Solitude, however, pleases me 
much. I hâte society. I must finish what I hâve begun, 
and whàtever turns me from it is bad, especially when it 
is wearisome. 

You ask me, I think, about Madame de C . . . She 
h as taken the thing, as I told you, tragically, and now 
distrusts the M . . . family, Beneath ail this, on both 



280 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

sides there is something inexplicable, and I hâve no 
désire to look for the key of mysteries which do not con- 
cern nie. I am with Madame de C . . . on the proper 
terms of politeness and as you yourself would wish me 
to be. 

Do not make any eomparison between the affection 
which you inspire, and that which you graut ; for in that, 
those who love you hâve the advantage. Never believe 
that I cease to tliink of you, for even though I be occu- 
pied as I am now, it is impossible that in hours of 
fatigue and despair, hours when oui* energy relaxes, 
and we sit with pendent arms and sunken head, body 
weary and minci distressed, the wings of memory should 
not bear us back to moments when we refreshed our 
soûl beneath green shades, to lier who siniled to us, who 
has nothing in lier heart that is not sincère, who is to us 
a spirit, who réanimâtes us, and renews, so to speak, 
by distractions of the soûl, those powers to which others 
give the naine of talent. You are ail thèse things to me, 
you know it; therefore never jest about my feelings ; I 
fear lest there mingle in it too mucii of gratitude. 

Adieu. At TVierzchownia ! I must cross Europe to 
show you an aging face, but a heart that is ever déplor- 
ai >ly young, which beats at a word, at a line ill-written, 
an address, a perfume, as though it were not thirty-six 
years old. 

1 hope when you are regularly settled in your Wierz- 
chownia, that you will write me the journal of your daily 
life and be to me more faithfully a friend, so that we 
shall be as if we had seen ourselves yesterday when I 
arrive. A thousand kind things to M. Ilanski. Write 
me whether the parcel is lost or you received it. I 
am afraid it went to Ischl after you had left. Also 
write me by return of courier, inclosing in your letter a 
seal in red wax of your arms, which are to be engraved on 
the titlepage of " Séraphita," in the édition of the iC Études 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 281 

philosophiques " and " Le Livre Mystique." Is n't it a 
pièce of gallantry to souncl the heraldic chord which you 
hâve within you, I know not where, for it is not in your 
heart? Kiss Anna on the forehead for me. Ail tender 
sentiments, and recall me to the recollection of the 
Viennese, to whom I owe memories. 

Paris, August 24, 1835. 

My letters are beeoming short, you say, and you no 
longer know whom I see. I see no one ; I work so con- 
tinually that I hâve not a moment for writing. But I 
do hâve moments of lassitude for thinking. Some day 
you will be astonished at what I hâve been able to do, 
and yet write to a friend at ail. 

Listen : to settle this point, reflect on this : Walter 
Scott wrote two novels a year, and was thought to hâve 
luck in his labour; he astonished England. This year I 
shall hâve produced : (1) u Le Père Goriot ;" (2) "Le 
Lys dans la Vallée;" (3) "Les Mémoires d'une jeune 
Mariée ; " (4) " César Birotteau." I hâve done three 
Parts of the " Études de Mœurs" for Madame Bêchet ; 
and three Parts of the " Études Philosophiques" for 
Werdet. And, finally, I shall hâve fmisked the third 
dizain, and " Séraphita." But then, shall I be living, 
or in my sound mind in 1836? I doubt it. Sometimes I 
think that my brain is inflaming. I shall die on the 
breach of intellect. 

Thèse efforts hâve not yet saved me from my financial 
crisis. This fearful production of books, involving as it 
does such masses of proofs, has not sufficed to liquidate 
me. I must corne to the stage ; the returns of which are 
enormous compared to those we get from books. The 
intellectual battle-fields are more fatiguing to work than 
the fields where men die or the fields where they sow 
their corn ; know this. France drinks brains, as once 
she eut off noble heads. 



282 Honoré de Balza<\ [18.35 

Yes, I ean only write y ou a few pages, and soon I may 
only send you despairing ones ; for courage is beginning 
to désert me. I am weary of this struggle without rest, 
of this constant production without productive success. 
A fine thing truly to excite moral sympathies when a 
mother and a brother are needing ))read ! A fine thing 
to hear silly compliments on work* that are written witii 
one's blood and do not sell, while M. Paul de Kock sells 
three tliousand copies of his, and the " .Magasin Pitto- 
resque " sixty tliousand ! We sliall see each other again 
if I triumpli, but I doubt success! 

Monday, 24. 

Forgive me for having uttered that cry of pain, and do 
not be too much alarmed by it. Put if I perish, carried 
olï by excess of toil, it must not surprise you. The end 
of "Séraphita" cannot appear in the " Revue de Paris " 
before September. The corrections, the efforts are 
crushing. Already there bave been one hundred and 
sixty hours' work on the tirst proof ; and I don't know 
what the others will cost. 

If you are kind you will write me oftener. It seems as 
though the air were fresher about me, my bruin cooler, 
as if 1 were in an oasis, when I hâve read your letters. 
They make me think I am at sonie wayside haven. 
Fifteen days had passed without one when I received the 
last from Ischl. I am vvell advanced in corrections of 
the 4t Lys dans la Vallée." It will appear in the " Revue 
des Deux Mondes " while you are travelling. I think I 
hâve not done a fmer work as painting of an interior. [ 
hâve rewritten and finished "Gobseck." In "La Fleur 
des Pois " I hâve swung round upon myself . Ilitherto, 
I hâve painted the misfortunes of wives ; it is tinie to 
show also the sorrows of husbands. 

Ilere is something siugular : it is that I was composing 
this work while you were thinking of its leading idea ; and 



1885] Letters to Madame ITa?iska. 283 

du ring the time it took your letter in winch you spoke of 
the suff erings that f ail upon men to reach me ! 1s it not 
enough to make one believe that space does not exist and 
that we had talked together? 

Adieu, I hâve no more time to write. But, as I told 
you, I hâve time to think, and I think of you in ail my 
hours of récréation. I must earn money to go to the 
Ukraine, for in order to travel tranquilly I cannot owe 
anything hère. 

Adieu ; remember me to ail about you. 

Chaillot, October 11, 1835. 

Do not be surprised at my silence ; it is easily ex- 
plained by the abundant work I hâve done. For the 
last forty days I hâve risen at midnight and gone to bed 
at six o'clock. -Between those periods there lias been 
nothing but work, ardent, passionate work, — the desper- 
ate struggle of battle-fields. 

Do me the favour not to believe that the friendship 
you grant me is the common friendship of womeu; con- 
sider quand même to be the nobles t of mottoes. Yes, I 
shall not perish ; yes, I shall triumph ! 

But you ought to hâve received two letters through 
Sina, one of which carried to you the dedication. By 
the first of next March I shall owe nothing to any one. 
And thus will end this horrible battle between misfortune 
and me. My wealth will be my pen and my liberty. 

Yesterday, returning along the quays on foot, meditat- 
ing the corrections of u Saraphita," I saw, in a carriage 
that went by rapidly, Madame Kisseleff. Imagine my 
astonishment ! She was returning no doubt from Belle- 
vue, the résidence of the Austrian embassy. 

Another pièce of news. By getting up afc midnight 
and going to bed at six o'clock for forty days I ara begin- 
ning to get thin during my eighteen hours' vigil and toil. 
I wish the " Lys " and u Séraphita " and the new " Louis 



284 Honoré de Balzac, [1835 

Lambert" to be tlie eulmiiiiiting points of my literary life 
so far. 

AVe are reprinting tlie "Médecin de campagne." I 
a m baving a travelling-carriage ))iiilt; and 1 think of 
buying a house, so tbat wben yon corne to Paris I can 
offer you a wbole one to yourself, in thanks for tbe lios- 
pitality yon promise me at Wierzcbownia. M. de Cus- 
tine is in Paris, faitbless manî 

Will yon permit me to bave a wateb made for yon in 
Geneva? I will bring it to yon with tbe manuseripts 
tbat belong to yon. I will tbns repair tbe disaster of 
yonr journey; you are too far from Geneva to do it 
yourself. 

Take care of yourself. Play Grandet and Benassis. 
I will be your cri tic wlien I corne, as you are mine on 
my works. 

Ob ! I entreat you, bave confidence in me. Do not be 
vexed witb me for anytbing, neitber tbe brevity, nor tbe 
careless scribbling of my letters. I mnst work on, — 
notbing can be allowed to wait ; and I bave always 
around me tbree or fonr volumes in proofs to read ; and 
besides tins, financial matters. Jn trutb, I do not live ; 
but, in my most weary bours, I can rest my bead upon 
tbe mantel-picce and lose myself in dreams, like a 
woman. 

A tbousand kind memories to ail, and to you ail tbe 
friendsbips. I expect to bear from you on " Le Lys 
dans la Vallée." I worked long over tbat book. I 
wauted to use tbe langnage of Massillon, and tbat instru- 
ment is beavy to wield. 

Ardent wisbes for ail tbat is dear to you; my friend- 
sbip to tbe Grand Marsbal. 

Chaillot, October, 1835. 

T bave rcceived your letter from Brody, and tbank you 
from tbe bottom of my beart. Tbe more you forbid me 
to go to Wierzcbownia, under pretext of too great fatigue, 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 285 

the quicker I shall go. But be easy; I cannot breathe 
the air of liberty, or feel myself free of chains, before 
April, May, or June. But I shall surely go and do 
u Philippe II." and "Marie Touchet" at Wierzchownia 
tranquilly; or a few good works which will give me my 
financial independenee, — the three francs a day that the 
dethroned Napoléon wanted. 

Yes, Madame Kisseleff is in Paris. Ilappy Monsieur 
E . . . ! I am out of society ; until my libération I see 
no one, and I work as I told you. You will not read till 
you reach Wierzchownia " Le Livre Mystique," which is 
composed of my new "Louis Lambert" and " Séra- 
phita." The Eraperor Nicholas will not forbid those 
books. 

I should llke to be ablc to buy the hou se of which I 
spoke to you. It would be a good investment, and I 
should be forcée! to be economical. 

I am getting a bad opinion of your firmness. In pro- 
portion as you approach your cara patria your sublime 
resolutions as to government vanish, and you are becom- 
ing once more the great lady, créole and indolent. Corne, 
be queen of Wierzchownia ; do not be an unpublished 
Benassis at Paulowska. Be, rather, an intellectual 
growth, develop that fine forehead where shines the most 
lu min ou s of divine lights. 

I wish to reach Wierzchownia by travelling through 
Germany, — that country worthy of the renown against 
which we lie so much. From now to seven months hence 
I shall hâve accomplished great w^orks. " César Birot- 
teau " will hâve been followed by many others. But the 
" Lys"! If the u Lys" is not a female breviary, I am 
nothing. The virtue in it. is sublime, and not wearying. 
To be dramatic with virtue, to be ardent and use the 
language and style of Massillon, — let me tell you, that is 
a problem, to solve which, in the first number, cost three 
iiundred hours of corrections, four hundred francs to ttiQ 



286 Honore de Balzac. [1835 

u Revue" and to me a trouble in my liver. Dr. Nac- 
quart put me into a bath for three hours a day, on ten 
pounds of grapes, and wanted me not to work ; but I do 
work ail night. 

Madame de Berny is much better ; she bas borne a 
last shock, the illness of a beloved son whose brotlier 
bas gone to bring bim borne from Belgium. I was tbere 
to lessen lier sorrows. ÎSbe told me sbe could say but one 
word about my " Lys " : tbat it was indeed the Lily of 
the Valley. From her lips that is great praise ; sbe is 
very hard to satisfy. The first number is fmished and I 
bave two others; at twenty days apiece, that makes forty 
days. Sainte-Beuve worked four years at u Volupté." 
Compare that ! 

I send y ou many heartfelt wishes, and beg you to reeall 
me to the memory of ail. Your paper-knife broke in my 
band ; it almost eut me ; I felt grîeved about it. Be- 
sicles which, I don't know where the little pencil-case of 
Geneva bas hid itself; I ara grieved about that also ; 
but it may be fourni in some pocket. I am so full of 
ideas and work that hère is distraction beginning. But 
the heart bas noue, only the head. 

Ciïaillot, Novemher 22, 1835. 

Do not be surprised at the number of days since I bave 
written to you. This interruption is due to the sharpness 
of the conflict, the necessity of a work that takes days 
and nights. I am in fear of succumbing. Also, e vents 
liave become very serions in my family. vSomething had 
to be done about my brother, — get bim off to India, or 
induce bim to go. 

You, so little concerned about money, you will never 
know, until I relate them to you by the lireside in your 
steppe, the difficulties there are in paying ten thousand 
francs a month, witbout other resource than one's peu. 
Still, I bave almost the liope of arrivipg, if not free, 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 287 

ai least with honour safe and no misfortune, at Decem- 
ber 31. 

You will comprehend nothing of thèse two months until 
you see the frightful labour on "Séraphita" and the 
" Lys" bound in green and placed upon your bookshelves. 
Then you will ask yourself, seeing that mass of proofs 
and corrections, if there were years in those months, days 
in those hours. 

Madame Bêchet has paid us our thirty-three thousand 
francs; and we are offered forty-five thousand for the 
thirteen following volumes, which will complète, in twenty- 
five volumes, the first édition of the " Etudes de Mœurs.'' 
That is how our affaire stand now. We owe thirty-live 
thousand francs, and we possess, in expectation, fifty 
thousand. There 's the account of our household. The 
sole point now is, not to die of fatigue on the clay when 
the burden becomes endurable ! 

To-morrow, Sunday, 22, the first number of the u Lys 
dans la Vallée " appears in the " Revue de Paris." But 
learn from one fact the nature of my struggle and my 
daily combats. Since my return from Vienna the 
u Revue de Paris" made immense sacrifices for"Séra- 
phita." After six months of toil and money spent, 
u Séraphita," finished, w r as to hâve appeared to-morrow. 
Suddenly the director told me it was incompréhensible, 
and that he preferred not to publish it on account of the 
long interruption which had occurred betw T een the first 
numbers and the end, with a hundred other reasons 
which I spare you. I at once proposée! to pay him his 
costs and take back my article. Accepted.- I rushed to 
Werdet, and told him about it. He rushed to Buloz with 
the money ; and the wrath of publisher and author is 
such that "Séraphita" has gone from one printing-press 
to the other and that the " Livre Mystique," will appear 
on Saturday, 28th. The literature of the periodical press 
will seize upon the singular anecdote of this refusai; it 



288 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

will make such an uproar, inasmuch as tbe editor of the 
" Revue " is not liked, that Werdet feels sure of selling 
" Séraphita " in a single day. 1 There is a copy on 
Chinese paper for you, besides the collection of manu- 
scripts and proofs. I>ut such displays of force require 
prodigious efforts: they are like the campaigns of Italy. 

You understand that in a literary campaign like mine 
society is impossible. Therefore I hâve openly re- 
nounced it. I go nowhere, I answer no letter and no 
invitation. I only allow myself the Italian opéra once 
a fortnight. Thursday last I saw Madame Kisseleff 
there. Alasî how little efïect her beauty madeî If } 7 ou 
only knew how everything becomes belittled in Paris! 
In spite of her protecting passion for Poggi, slie nnder- 
stands what I tried to tell her in Vienna, and Poggi 
now gives her the impression of a full stop in the En- 
cyclopa?dia after hearing Rubini. 

I cannot tell you the memories that assailed me Tvhen 
I found myself beside some one from Vienna, a friend 
of yonrs, and listening to the "Somnambula" winch 
recalled to me two of our evenings. The Princess 
Schonberg was there also. I paid a visit of politeness 
to her; and I shall also go and see Madame Kisseleff 
once. 

So, my life is a strange monoton} T , and y our letters 
are so rare that I hâve no longer the regular event that 
varied it, — y our letters, that alwa} T s came of a Mon- 
day. I hâve no longer my good Monday. I can only 

1 Werdet gives a long account of this affair ("Portrait intime de 
Balzac" pp. 147-1 69). On it, lie bases a bitter coinplaint againsfc 
Balzac of unfairly and to bis, Werdet's, injnry, delaying the publica- 
tion fifteen months ; which charge falls to the ground under the above 
évidence that M. Buloz returned " Séraphita," November 21, 1835 (not 
1834 as Werdet says), and Werdet published the book two weeks later, 
December 2, 1835, on which day every copy was sold, and two hundred 
and fifty were promised. The second édition was published December 
28, 1835. — Tu. 



1835] Letters to Madame Ha7iska. 289 

tell you about my work and my payments, — a chant as 
monotonous as that of the waves of océan surging upon 
a granité rock. 

I am going to dine in town to get you an autograph 
of Sir Sidney Smith, the hero of Saint-Jean-d'Acre. I 
will also send you one of Alphonse Karr. 

Sunday, 22. 

I beg of you to number your letters, beginning with 
the year 1836, as I do myself with this one; so that we 
may mutually know if our letters reach us saf ely ; and 
w lien we w r ant spécial answers to any question, the 
mention of the number will settle everything. 

I hâve had, and I still hâve, violent griefs on the 
side of Nemours. Madame de Berny was decidedly 
better; her dreadful palpitations were relieved. There 
were hopes of saving her. Suddenly, the only son who 
resembles her, a young m an handsome as the day, 
tender and spiritual like herself, like her full of noble 
sentiments, fell ill, and ill of a cold which amounts to 
an affection of the lungs. The only child out of niue 
with whom she can sympathize! Of the nine, only four 
remain; and her youngest daughter has become hysteri- 
cally insane, without any hope of cure. That blow 
nearly killed her. I was correcting the "Lys" beside 
her; but my affection was powerless even to temper this 
last blow. Her son (twenty-three years old) was in 
Belgium, where he was directing an establishment of 
great importance. His brother Alexandre went to fetch 
him, and he arrived a month ago, in a déplorable condi- 
tion. This mother, without strength, almost expiring, 
sits up at night to nurse Armand. She has nurses and 
doctors. She implores me not to corne and not to write 
to her. You know how at moments, when ail within us 
is tension, the slightest shock, whether it cornes from 
tried affection or from clumsiness, breaks us down. 

19 



290 Honoré de Balzac, [1835 

What a situation ! So tliat I bave a double anxiety in 
tbat direction, wbere I live so mue h. 

My motber and my brotlier give nie other anxieties of 
so cruel and disastrous a kind tbat I do 110 1 speak to 
you of tbem, for tbey are not of a nature to be written. 
One must bave mucb faitb in tbe future to live Unis, — 
to take up, every morning, one's beavy burden. My 
friends bave ail limited means, and cannot relieve my 
financial situation, which twenty-five thousand francs 
would render endurable, were tbey only lent to me for 
six montbs. 1 must still mareb on to tbe last moment 
in triple distresses, — tbose of my family, tbose of my 
work, tbose of my finances. I clon't speak of calumnies 
or of tbe wretebes who tbrow sticks behveen my legs 
wben 1 run. Tbat is notbing. Tbat which would kill 
an artist I scarcely consider an annoyance. 

I bave of late been twenty-six bours in my study with- 
out leaving it. I get tbe air at tbat window wbicb 
commands ail Paris, wbicb I will some day command. 

I bave received your last letter written from your 
desolate land. I reckon tbat by tbis time you bave 
reacbed Wierzcbownia, reviewed your wheat-fields, 
resumed your habits, and tbat you can surely write to 
me tvrice a montb. Following your custom, you bave 
give 11 me your address very imperfectly, and tbat of 
tbe Cbanoinesse with a perfection qui te hieroglyphic. 
Write and tell lier tbat for me it is as impossible to 
write to lier as it would be to take tbe moon in my teetb. 
Society 7 people, tbe ricb, tbe idle, imagine notbing of 
tbe busy lives of artists and poor men. It is bumorous 
to a degree. Especially do tbey believe in our ingrati- 
tude, our forgetfulness; tbey never view us as toiling 
night and day. To explain myself wbolly, tbink of 
tbose sevenleen volumes manufacturée! by me witbout 
belp; eompute tbat tbat makes three bundred feuilles 
[4800 octavo pages], eacb read more tban fen times, 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 291 

and fchat makes three thousand [48,000], besides the con- 
ception and the writing; and also tbat beyond the will 
to do I must bave du bonheur [the luck of inspiration]. 

So, whatever they tell you of me, laugh at it, and 
think of this, the proof of which exists. One of my 
bitterest literary enemies says of me: " Talent, genius, 
his incredible. power of will, I can understand, I can 
believe it; but wheve, and how, does lie manufacture 
Time?" 

Ah! madame, I hâve brought myself, I, such a sleeper, 
to do without sleep; I sleep only four hours; and I, so 
eager, so much a child, I hâve resolved my whôle life 
into dreams of hope. I live by suffering, work, and 
hope only. My fortune will be made by three months 
spent at Wierzchownia without care, without anxieties, 
in writing two fine plays. 

By the singular will of Providence your friendship is 
joined to the three halts I hâve made during the last 
three years. Neufchâtel, Geneva, Vienna, hâve been to 
me three oases. There, I thought of nothing; I renewed 
my strength. You will see me arrive dying at Wierz- 
chownia, and I shall leave it living. 

Adieu; my friendly regards to the Benassis of 
Wierzchownia. My compliments to the three young 
ladies. A kiss on Anna' s forehead. Be without anxiety 
as to the manner in which I shall make the journey. I 
shall corne alone, without anything to contest at the 
custom-house, without books, without papers, — only 
linen and clothes. I will write you, in advance, the 
liâmes of the books I shall need, to see if you hâve them 
in your library; that is the only tax I shall place upon 
you. I shall not bring a score of heavy books. I hâve 
ail my intellectùal riches in my head, and ail my 
treasures in m y heart. You must hâve indulgence for 
my one coat, my poet's wardrobe. I shall go light as 
an arrow, rapid as an arrow, but heavy with hopes, 



292 Honoré de Balzac. [1835 

with pleasures to take in that chimney-corner by which 
you entice me. 

Ciiaillot, Norember 25, 1835. 

If "Séraphita" is not for sale on Saturday there will 
be no winter for me in Russia; AVerdet is rnined il' 
"Séraphita," that is to say, "Le Livre Mystique," is not 
a great success, and if the second and tbird Parts of the 
"Etudes Philosophiques" do not appear in December 
and January. I lose six thousand francs with Madame 
Bechet if lier last Part does not appear in February. 
Keep tire above })efore youf eyes so that you may not 
blâme me. I must fui fil my engagements or J die, killed 
at last by grief. To write a letter is impossible. People 
who lead a iixed life, by whom the want of money is 
never felt, are unable to judge of the lives of those who 
work night and day, and hâve to beg for the money they 
earn. 

I had forty thousand francs to pay after my return 
from Vienna, and before this coming December. The re- 
fore judge what efforts and resources I needed to make 
head against that without crédit; so that what you say 
to me in the letter I received to clay seems to me very 
singular. You do not know the bitterness of the epi- 
gram which your fear bas madc upon a poor artist, 
in hiding on aceount of the National Guard, who for 
five months lias gone to bed at six o'clock (with rare 
exceptions) to rise at midnight, and who is working 
superhumanly to earn a few months' freedom in order 
to go and see you. To ask me for letters under thèse 
circumstances is as if you had been a Frenchman and 
asked some colonel to write to you during the retreat 
from Moscow — with this différence, that the warmth of 
my soûl can never lessen, and triumph will take the place 
of defeat. 

Mon Dieu/ T can't foresee any peace under ihvee 
months, unless tlirough fortunate cvents that are impos- 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 293 

sible: exhausted éditions that would give me money, or 
falling ill myself. Theii I would write to you. But 
would you not rather bave my silence, which tells you 
I am workiug fruitfully, and bringing nearer tbe bappy 
day of my freedom? Hâve I made you too great in 
counting on your intelligent friendsbip to divine tbese 
tbings? 

Hère cornes Werdet witb ten feuilles, one bundred and 
sixty pages, to correct! I bave, since I wrote letter No. 
1, now on its way, quarrelled witb tbe Revues, for tbe 
same causes tbat I quarrelled witb Picbot; you know 
tbe m. 

Well, adieu. I bave lived a few minutes witb you in 
the pretty borne of your sister, for you are indeed a 
good painter. 

Tbougb I am not ill, I am borribly fatigued, — more 
tban I bave ever been. I bave not been able to go and 
breatbe my native air of Touraine, wbicb would revive 
me. 

A tbousand caressing tbings. Never doubt your poor 
future guest again. 

P. S. I hâve lost in a diligence my Geneva pencil- 
case witb tbe Ave. I did not bave tbe luck tbat you bad 
witb your watcb. I bave not recovered it. 

Chaillot, December 18, 1835. 
I receive to-day tbe letter in wbicb you tell me you 
bave read tbe first number of tbe "Lys." Wben you 
receive this letter you will doubtless hâve read tbe 
second. (Shameful cbeatery bas sold tbem to Bellizard, 
and I shall prosecute sucb thef ts ; that is, if I bave the 
courage to protest against a fraud which hastens the 
enjoyment that you say you take in my tbings.) 1 You 

1 The publication of "Le Lvs dans 'la Vallée " in liussia. See 
" Memoir of Balzac," pp. 160, 161, 231-237. — Tr. 



294 Honore de Balzac. [is3j 

will understand better the three bundred bours. J lcave 
tbe enervating corrections of tbe tbird uumber to write 
to you. 

You are rigbt in jour pbilological criticisms. I per- 
ce ive my faults every day, and correct tbem. You will 
tind, soine day, a great différence between tbe acknowl- 
edged work and ail preceding éditions. 

Imagine my bappiness! Tbomassy [a collaborator 
of Augustin Tbierry] came to embrace me after reading 
"Sérapbita. " Ile told me tbat lie regarded tbe "Livre 
Mystique " as one of the masterpieces of tbe Frencb 
language, and tbat be saw no fault to (in cl witb it. 

Tbere must be some faults still in "La Grenadière;" 
but tbese last stains upon tbe wbite robe sball be 
removed by tbe soap of patience and tbe wash-board of 
courage, wbicb love of art for art's sake gives. Jt is 
useless to tell you wbat tbe "Lys" lias cost me. I bave 
now spent llfteen days on tbe tbird number, and I need 
eigbt more. 

A dreadful misfortune bas bappened to me. Tbe 
lire in tbe rue du Pot-de-Fer destroyed tbe hundred and 
sixty first pages, printed at my cost, of tbe tbird dizain 
of tbe "Contes Drolatiques," and five bundred volumes, 
wbicb cost me four francs eacb, of tbe first and second 
dizains. Not only do I lose an actual amouiit of tbree 
tbousand five bundred francs in money and interest, but 
I also lose an agreement for six tbousand francs, on 
wbicb I counted to pay my expenses at tbe end of tbe 
year, wbich is now broken, because I bave notbing to 
give AYerdet and an associate in this affair wlio bougbt 
tbe tbree dizains. 

I must face tliis misfortune, wbicb cornes at the 
moment wdien hope was no longer a vain word, wben 
gleams of blue were ligbting up my beaven, beside tbe 
lovely form so rarely seen tliere. Wollî I bave always 
sbown an iron front to trouble; tliere 's nougbt but bap- 



1835] Letters to Madame Hanska. 295 

piness which breaks me down — for I ill know how to 
bear it. Madame de Berny bas kept' silence since this 
fatal event. Tbat is anotber trouble. And my journey 
to Wierzcbownia recèdes. 

You bave no idea of our civilization; tbe trouble it 
is to do business; wbat distances, wbat visits wasted on 
moneyed people ; tbeir caprices, wbicb make tbe promise 
of one day witbdrawn tbe next! My life is a torrent. 
I sleep only five bours. To go and see you would 
be a rest, no matter bow fatiguing a rapid journey 
migbt be. 

I bave few events to tell you. I bave dined once 
with Madame Kisseleff; and once at tbe Austrian em- 
bassy, and I went to a rout at tbè latter place. One 
must keep up relations tbere. I bave seen Princess 
Schonberg. But I do no more tban is necessary. 

I am to bave two secrétaires, two young men wbo 
espouse tbe bopes of my political life, wbicb, alas! is 
dawning. I am embarrassée! bow to tell you wben, how, 
and wby, because you bave forbidclen tbe subject; 1 
but you will guess ail wben I tell you tbat five days ago 
I bought a political newspaper. ïbese young men are: 
(1) Tbe Comte de Belloy, friend of Sandeau, nepbew 
of tbe cardinal ; twenty-four years old, face bappy, wit 
abundant, conduct bad, poverty dreadful, talent and 
future ricb, confidence and dévotion entire, nobility 
immémorial. (2) A Comte de Gramont, one of wbose an- 
cestors went security for a Duc de Bourgogne. He does 
not belong to the family of the Ducs de Grammont. I 
know bim less than I do de Belloy. Tbese are my two 
aides-de-camp. 

You will be surprised to see Sandeau exciuded. Bot 
Sandeau is not, like tbese gentlemen, legitimist; he <loes 
not sbare my opinions. Tbat says ail. I bave done 

1 Ail bis political interests and occupations were exciuded from his 
letters to Russia, in fear of the censorship. — Tu. 



296 Honore de Balzac. [1835 

everything to couvert liim to the doctrines of absolute 
power. lie is as billy as a propagandiste 

You see tliat kere is a second mine; a second cause 
for arduous work. You see also that Bcdouck is not a 
talisman without force in me. Bat it needs mucb money, 
and still more talent. I dou't know wliere to get the 
money. 

You are very right to economize; and I do not under- 
stand why you do not beat M. Ilanski into seuding 
away forty ont of bis eighty workmen. Shiekler and 
ail oui* grcat seigneurs hère do not employ more than 
forty. 

Iveserve your sublime analytical thoughts to act like 
your neighbour, the Oountess Branicka. Money can do 
everything to vanquish matei'ial obstacles. Be miserly 
by juxtaposition; miserly with an objeet. 

My brother-in-law is negotiating the purchase of my 
bouse. I désire it extremely. It fui fils ail the condi- 
tions that you require in a dwelling. IIow I wish that 
you could so arrange your affairs that you might be in it 
three years hence, without M. Ilanski having one 
anxiety. Is not M. Mitgislas P . . . happy as a 
king? Ile bas ail the wealtk that be wants, and pos- 
sesses enough in the pul)lic funds to bring down the 
stock hy a sale! Nothing is easier to administer and 
collcct than such revenues, nothing barder than Uterurt/ 
revc/ntes, although tbey are so simple that nothing is 
simplerî 

u If } t ou love me" (Aima's style) you will make me a 
])retty little daily journal, not a periodical one; so that 
every eigbt (bi} T s I shall receive your letter, and mine 
will cross yours. Can you do less for a m au who writes 
only to you in ail the world? 

As for my présent life, I bave retumed to the rue des 
Batailles. I go to bed at seven and get up at two ; 
between those two periods see me in the boudoir of the 



1835] Lctters to Madame Hanska. 297 

" Fiile aux yeux d'or," seated at a table and working 
without other distraction than to go to in y window and 
contemplate that Paris which I will some day subjugate. 
And hère I am for three months, until my house is 
bought, and my new arrangements for lodging and 
living made. 1 

I imagine that Anna is well, that you flourish in la 
car a patria, that M. Hanski is busy, that Mesdemoi- 
selles Séverine and Denise are at their best, that Made- 
moiselle Borel has restored her good grâces to the author 
of u Séraphita," and prays God for him after praying 
for you and Anna, that ail goes well, even Pierre, that 
the confectioner makes you delicious things, and, in 
short, that nothing is lacking in your Eden but a poor 
foreigner who glides there in thought. At night, when 
the fire crackles or a spark darts from a candie, say to 
yourself, u 'Tis he!" Think, then, that a too ardent 
memory has crossed the spaces and fallen on your table 
like an aërolite detached from a distant sphère. 

Farewell again. I would that I could say à bientôt. 
When you begin the third number of the "Lys" you 
will know that if the first pages are bad it is because 
you hâve taken the time necessary to make them good, 
and that nothing is sweeter to me than to abandon for 
you my author' s vanity and the public. 

1 It seems, at first si^bt, ratlier astonishin? that a m an so deeply in 
debt should talk of buying property. But in a letter to his sister ro- 
specting his building of " Les Jardies," he says it is as an investment 
for his mother, who was one of his creditors. The saine statement is 
made by Théophile Gantier in his record of Balzac. From this point 
of view, a purchase of real estate was safety, not extravagance. — Tr. 



208 Honoré de Balzac, [1836 



IV. 
LETTEES DURING 1836, 

Ciiaillot, Jauuary 18, 183G. 

In spite of my entre aty, your letter, which I received 
to-day, after nearly one month's interregnum, is neither 
dated nor uumbered ; so tliat it is impossible to ansvver 
each other understandingly at sucli a distance. 

Your letter contai ns two reproaches which bave keenly 
affected me ; and I think I bave already told you tbat a 
levv chance expressions would su f lice to niake me go to 
Wierzchownia, which would be a misfortune in my prés- 
ent perilous situation ; but I would rather lose everytbing 
than lose a true friendsbip. 

In the first place, as for letters, count up those tbat 
you bave written me, and my replies; the balance will 
be mucb in my favour. AVhen you speak of the rarity 
of my letters you make me think tbat some must be lost, 
and I feel uneasy. In short, you distrust me at a dis- 
tance, just as you distrusted me near by, without any 
reason. I read quite dcspairingly the paragraph of your 
letter in wliich you do the honours of my heart to my 
minci, and sacrifice my whole personality to my brain. 

I laughed much at your reckoning of my work by 
quantity, not quality. I laughed, because 1 thought of 
your analytieal forehcad; I laughed, because I thouglit 
that at the moment wlien I was reading those falsely 
accusing pages, Vou, perhaps, were liolding in your haud 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 299 

u Séraphita " and making me in the clepths of your heart 
some honourable amends. 

Ah! cara, if you were in the secret of those work- 
sessions, which begin at midnight and end at midday, if 
you knew that the new édition of the " Médecin de cam- 
pagne" and the second of the " Livre Mystique " hâve 
cost me six hundred Jiours, that I must deliver February 1 
the manuscripts of two new octavo volumes, and that I 
hâve business and lawsuits besides, you would see, with 
pain, that you hâve accused afriend falsely, that " Marie 
Touchet " is going on, and that — that — etc. 

To-day, I hâve so much on my hands that I am com- 
pelled to extrême rapidity. I am irreconcilably parted 
from the two Revues. I hâve in my own hands " La 
Chronique de Paris," a newspaper that cornes out twice a 
week, and expresses my royalist sympathies. I hâve 
begun the year by " La Messe de l'Athée," a work con- 
ceived, written, and printed in a single night. I must 
deliver in February a work entitled " L'Interdiction," 
which is équivalent to seventy pages of the " Revue de 
Paris." This is over and above what I hâve to do for 
Madame Bêchet and Werdet. In two months I shali 
hâve ended the agreement with Madame Bêchet, and be 
free of lier. 

In the enumeration which you make of my works you 
count as nothing the enormous corrections which the re- 
prints cost me. Is it not sad to hâve to count up witli 
yon, — to make for friendship calculations such as I 
li ave to make with my publishers? You took amiss what 
I said to you in asking you not to cause me false sorrows, 
because I was bending beneath the weight of real ones. 
To tell you those, I should hâve to write you volumes. 
They are such that the success of u Séraphita" did not 
bring into my soûl the slightest joy. Did there not corne 
a moment when Sisyphus neither wept nor smiled, but 
became of the nature of the rocks he was ever lifting? 



300 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

M y life is becoming too much that of a steam-engine. 
ïoil to-day, toil to-morrow; always toil, and small 
results. 1836 is begun. I sliall soon be thirty-seven 
years old. I bave six months before me, during wbich I 
bave accumulated fifty thousand francs to pay. ïliose 
paid, I shall bave paid off what I owe to strangers. 
Tbere remains my mothcr. But I sball bave spent nine 
years of life at the edge of a table, with an inkstand 
before me. I bave bad but tliree diversions, permit me to 
say tbree bappinesses : my tliree journeys, — tliree récré- 
ations snatcbed, stolen, perilously torn from the midst of 
my battles, leaving tbe enemy to make beadway ; tliree 
balts, during which I breatbed! 

And you find fault with tbe poor soldier who bas 
resumed bis life of abnégation, bis life militant, tbe poor 
writer who bas not taken a penful of ink thèse two years 
without looking at your visiting card placed below bis 
inkstand. 

No, surely, I would not bave you bide from me a 
single one of tbe sad or gay thoughts that corne to you; 
but while I sympathize keenly witb ail that is of you, be- 
lieve that I suffer horribly from the worries that you make 
for yourseîf about me, by supposing facts or sentiments 
that are faîse or foreign to my nature. Tben it is that I 
measure the distance that parts us, and drop my Iiead. 
The wound is given, hère, at the moment when at TTierz- 
cliownia you ought, on receiving a letter from me, to 
regret having been too quick to blâme a beart which is 
■\vholIy devoted to you. Ilere are explanations enougli. 

I ara very désirons tliat you should bave the second 
édition of the " Livre Mystique" in wbich I bave made 
some changes, but ail is not doue yct in the matter of 
corrections. Madame de Bcrny sent me lier observations 
too late, and I could not rewrite tbe second chapter, 
entitled " Séraphita." Sbe alone bad tbe courage to tell 
me that the angel talked too much like a ^risette; that 



1836] Letters to Madame Ilamka. 301 

what seemed pretty so long as the end was not known 
is paltry. I see now that I must synthesize woman, as I 
hâve ail the rest of the book. Unhappily, I need six 
months to remake this part, and during that time noble 
soûls will ail blâme me for that fault which will be so 
obvious to their eyes. 

I send H animer a copy of the second édition, in 
memory of his kind deeds and his friendly réception. 

Did I tell you that the Princess Schonberg has put her 
child hère in the house where I am, on account of its 
vicinity to the Orthopœdie hospital? Yesterday I met 
her in the garden and we talked Vienna ; she clid not tell 
me a word about you, but much about Loulou. She said 
that Lady . . . had again run away with a G-reek, that 
Prince Alfred had prevented her from getting beyond 
Stuttgard. The husband arrived, fought a duel with the 
Greek, and took back his wife. What a singular wife ! 

Forgive me this gossip. I was so happy in the solitude 
of this house, rue des Batailles! The landlord said to 
me one morning that a Prince Schudenberg had corne. I 
replied, "No, there are only Counts of Schuttenberg." 
The next day on the staircase I saw a German valet, who 
looked at me, smiling, and three day s later Prince 
Schonberg told me, at Madame Appony's, that he had 
put his heir under the care of our good air and garden. 

If the play of "Marie Touchet" succeeds Ican buythe 
house I hâve in view. With what delight I shall enjoy a 
home of my own! But the dainned seller will not accept 
my terms of payment; he wants twenty-five thousand 
francs down, and I don't know when I shall hâve them. 
If I earn them in six months the house may then hâve 
been sold. Well, one must submit. 

I hâve still twenty days' more work on the ' ' Médecin 
de campagne ; " only one volume is printed ; I must finish- 
the second. I hope that this time the text will be défini- 
tive, and that it will be pure, without spot or blemish. 



302 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

You see, nothing can be more monotonous tban m y 
life in the midst of this whirling Paris. I refuse ail invi- 
tations; laboriously I do my work ; I amas s — to win a 
few days' freedom. One more journcy tbat I want to 
make! Some nigbts more of toil and perhaps I can go 
and see you about the middle of tins year. It eannot be 
until after I clear my debt. I would not show you even 
once tbat anxious face tbat so struck you tbe day you 
were singing and I was looking out across tbe AValter- 
garten. 

No, you never spoke to me of tbat Roger. You com- 
mit little sins, wbicb, like spoilt cbildren, you do not own 
till a long tiine afterwards. 

At tbis moment I am a prey to the horrible spasmodic 
cough I had at Geneva, and wbicb, since tben, returns 
every year at the saine time. Dr. Nacquart déclares tbat 
I ought to pay attention to it, and tbat I got sometbing, 
wbicb be does not define, in crossing tbe Jura. The 
good doctor is going to study my lungs. Tbis year I 
suffer witb it more tban usual. If I am at Wierzchownia 
tbis time next year you will baye an old man to nurse. 

I am in despair at tbe delay tbe u Revue de Paris" 
makes in bringing out tbe " Lys dans la Vallée." No 
work ever cost more labour. The t4 Lys," " Séra- 
phita," tbe " Médecin de campagne" are tbe three gulfs 
into wbicb I bave flimg tbe most nigbts, money, and 
tbougbts. The finest part, tbe end, is tbat wbicb bas not 
y et appeared. 

We are reprinting at tbis moment tbe fourth volume of 
tbe " Scènes de la Vie privée," in which î bave made great 
changes in relation to the gênerai meaning in " Même 
Histoire ; " so that Hélène's flight witb tbe murderer is 
rendered more probable. It took me a long time to make 
thèse last knots. 

To s u m up your questions : my healtb is not good just 
now ; business matters are multipi^ing ; work also; I am 



1836] Letter s to Madame Han&ka. 303 

under suspicion by you, whereas I am exterminating 
myself to earn money hère. No pleasures, many annoy- 
mices. Nothing bas variecl since my last letter, neither 
ray heart nor my occupations. I am awaiting some news. 
1 hâve imagined a thousand evils; I faneied that Anna, or 
you, or M. Hanski were ill. I now learn that you really 
are suffering with your heart. Remember ail that I hâve 
written to you about it. Avoid émotions, do not make 
violent exertions, and no harm will corne of it. As for 
the cure, when you corne to Paris it will be completed; we 
hâve physicians very learned on that point. It needs 
digitalis in doses adapted to the tempérament. 

January 22. 

Since the night I last wrote to you, this letter has lain 
hère without my having one moment in which to finish or 
close it. This wheel, this machine of a life must be seen 
to be understood. Werdet saw the mother of the woman 
who is near him burned on New Year's day. He tried to 
put out the fiâmes and burned his hands. The poor old 
woman died in ten minutes ; and Werdet has had to keep 
his bed twenty day s to cure his burns. I had to do his 
business for him, for Werdet is I. I had to obtain five 
thousand francs for myself and eight thousand for him. 
We hâve ten montas' clistress before us, both he and I. 
The last four days hâve been spent in marches and 
counterm arches. What hours lost ! I am never at home 
except to sleep a few hours. I hâve a dreadful month of 
February before me, full of work that will not return me 
a farthing. 

Well, I must bid you adieu, to you and ail those about 
you ; work is waiting ; the case of proof s is full, and I am 
in arrears with several folios of copy still to do. I hâve 
more work than gênerais on a campaign, but such work is 
obscure. You can imagine that a soldier on a campaign 
cannot write, and yet you expect a writer forced along on 



SO-A Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

four Unes of combat to be libéral of his letters. I assure 
y ou tliat the problem of my time is more than ever insol- 
uble. When I am with you, ask me why, and I will tell 
you. As for writing il, it vvoukl take volumes, and I 
must now rely on the coniidenee that should exist between 
friends to take my dévotion, my testimonies of heart and 
soûl uuder their simple.st expression ; certain that that 
expression will suilice, in spite of distance, to make us 
comprehend each other. Is that true? Say yes — ct if you 
love me." 

Adieu ; accept the vvishes that I make for your happiness 
such as you wish it. If I were God ! Ah! 

You are not ignorant of how rare lofty sentiments are ; 
I do not speak hère of talents ; no, I mean sentiments 
enlightened by pure intelligence. 

l)id I tell you that the little silver pencil-case for which 
I cared so much, and on which I had the Ace engraved, 
that gracious and religions Faber, I lost from my pocket 
while asleep in a public eonveyance? I will not hâve 
another; I cared for that one so much! It fell from my 
pocket ; it needed a chain ; I thought of that too late. 
The lizard chain of my watch is taken off. It was so 
easily broken ; it caught in everything. I rcturn it to 
you in idea ; Lecointe lias put a cassolette upon it. I 
shall keep it for you preeiously, and you will some day 
wear it. 

Excuse me for talking of such trilles, but I wanted to 
explain the absence of the Ace — a p rayer I often make. 

Dear, I would that when looking at your flowers you 
heard the gentle words my heart is saying at this moment 
to 3 7 ou; I would that in breathing their perfume you might 
feel the spirit that consoles ; I would that the silence were 
éloquent; that ail Nature in what she lias that is most 
endearing were my interpréter. Bat thèse, perhaps, are 
not ail the things we should require ; we should live too 
happy in their contact. We need to fiée to loftier régions, 



1836] Lettcrs to Madame Hanska. 305 

to the bare and stormy summits, where ail will make us 
humble by its grandeur and by the démonstration of vast 
struggles. You could find in what I do not tell you of 
myself something analogous. Bat I hâve not the sad 
courage to uncover ail my wounds. 

Well, adieu. Like the fisherman in Walter Scott's 
"Antiquary," I must saw my plank wilhout risking the 
blunder of an inch; I must write. Oh! car a, write! 
when one's soûl is mourning, and when the sister-soul 
is mourning also, and something is lost to us of our faith 
in losing the soûl that inspired it! — Let us bury that 
secret in our hearts. 

There is an autograph for you in the envelope of this 
letter. It is that of Silvio Pellico. 

A thousancl greetings to M. Ilanski and to those 
about you. May heaven dictate to them the honey 
words, the tencler silences, the grâce of heart, the 
religious efforts of the mind, which are so needed in 
those terrible transition clays which \ve call bad days, 
sad days. 

Accept a very afïectionate pressure of the hand. 

Paris, January 30, 1836. 
Cara, I hâve this moment received yours of December 
24 (old style), in which you speak to me of Princess 
G- . . . , k; that little stupid." I should hâve laughed at 
y our suspicions, if you had not revealed your displeasure 
in those three furious pages, the fury of which I adore. 
I hâve ne ver but once set foot in the house of that 
"little stupid," for, without having read your adorable 
advice relative to society, I hâve followed it to the 
letter. Ail that you say convinces me that our thoughts 
are identical. Let me repeat, for the last time, that in 
the situation in which I am placed I a m the subject of 
gossip and calumnies without foundation, and that those 
who w r ish to pull me clown will never know the secrets of 

20 



806 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

my heart. I can deliver up m y works to tbem, I can let 
them say ail they like about my person, and about my 
business afïairs; but ail that ijoa do not hcar dlreciUj 
from me about the matters that trouble you, believe it to 
be false. I hasten to write you thèse few words so as 
not to delay this letter, so important to friendship. 

I saw Madame Kisselefr at the Opéra, and she talked 
to me of you and of your brother; she begged me to 
remember her to you with many amiable expressions. 
She has ne ver said any harm of you; on the contrary, 
she praised me much for my attaehment to you, without 
saying anything to lessen it. But she did say of your 
brother what you told me yourself in Vienna. I share 
the grief you express to me on the fatal event; but I ara 
not entirely of your opinion. Among specialists, judg- 
ments go more to the root of things. If Count Henry is 
ail that you say of him, you should consider the nervous 
disposition of poets, of men who live in thought. Yes, 
the whole world wiil condemn him, and especially for the 
last phases of the afïair. But believe that there are 
some soûls who, without absolving him — for a man 
cannot be absolved for a failure of moral character — 
will pity bim as they pity " Louis Lambert," of whom 
you speak. Without comparing your brother to a seer, 
there are in the nature of men of mobile and changeable 
impressions, lacune, lassitudes, solutions of continuity 
under the pressure of misfortunes, of which we should 
take account. As judge, I should eut him off, as you 
do, from communion with the f aithf ul ; but I should 
open to him my poet's heart and comfort him, as you 
are doing. Yes, cara, the union of talent, genius, poesy, 
love, and a great, indomitable character, a rectangular 
will, is a miracle of nature — possibly an effect of 
tempérament. I will not go farther on this dolorous 
subject. 

The "Chronique de Paris" takes ail my time. I sleep 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 307 

only five hours. But if your affairs and M. Hanski's 
are cloiiig well, mine are beginning to prosper. Sub- 
scriptions are received in miraculous abundance, and the 
shares I possess bave risen to a value of ninety thousand 
francs capital in one mon th. 1 It is impossible for me to 
go into society; I am even uncivil. I bardly see my 
most intimate friends. If y ou were a witness of my 
life you would pity it. But my tbirst for work is in 
direct ratio to my tbirst for independence. I bave 
renewed negotiations for tbe Beaujon bouse. My law- 
suit will be called before tbe court to-morrow. It is 
now five o'clock in tbe morning. I am preparing tbe 
means of defence for my larv-yer. I tbank you mucb for 
your goocl long letter. Tbere 's a letter — a pretty letter 
— ■ in wbich affection scolds, and caresses as it scolds, 
but tells me ail tbat you are doing! 

I bave broken tbe last frail relations of politeness 
witb Madame de Castries. Sbe makes ber society now 
of MM. Jules Janin and Sainte-Beuve, wbo bave so 
outrageously wounded me. It seemed to me bad taste, 
and now I am bappily out of it. 

"Marie Toucbet" is getting on. You ougbt to bave 
"Sérapbita" by tbis time. Tbe second édition of tbe 
"Livre Mystique" appears on February 1. I am sorry 
you sbould read tbe bad édition before tbis one, tbougb 
tbis bas faults and must still undergo some cbanges. 
Werdet is quite pleased; yesterday be sold a hundred 
and fifty copies to foreign countries; be bopes to sell as 
many more from tbat advertisement. I bave ten days 
more of corrections on tbe "Médecin de campagne," 
tbird édition, 8vo. Ask for it; it is fine, in type, print- 
ing, and paper ; except for a few imperceptible blemisbes, 
tbe text is settled, fixed, as tbat of "Louis Lambert" is 
fixecl. "Louis Lambert" is mucb cbanged ; it is now 

1 For a brief account of tbis enterprise, see Memoir, pp. 164, 165. 
— Tr. 



808 Honore de Balzac. [1836 

complète. The last thoughts accord wilh " Séraphita; " 
ail is eo-ordiiiated. Moreover, the gap between collège 
and Jiiois is filled up; you will see tiiat. 

The "Messe de l'Athée" bas had the greatest success 
in the u Chronique de Paris." To-morrow the first 
chapter of the "Interdiction" will appear. And you 
think I court soeiety! J think it is you who are the 
"little stupid." 

A thousand pretty flowers of affection; take tliem, 
gather them, wear them on that intelligent brow, which 
refuses on!y one compréhension, that of understanding 
the extent of the affections you inspire. You saw them 
in Vienna, you doubt them in Paris. Oh! that is not 
right; above ail, when if concerna one who is devoted to 
you at ail points, like your poor moujik. 

Do not fail to remember me to every one about you; 
and M. Hanski will iind hère affectionate* compliments, 
and ail friendly things. 

Pakis, Mardi 8, 1836. 
Nothing can describe my anxiety. It is now more 
than a month since I bave heard from you. A silence 
of a month can only bave been causcd by some grave 
event. Is M. Hanski ill? Js it Anna? Is it you? 
What bas happened? Are you so busy at Kiew that 
you bave not found a single little moment to give to so 
old and devoted a friendship? lias a ietter been lostV 
lias some foolish s tory reached you, like that of a 
journey to Saint-Petersburg? — for, in my présence, a 
person wdio did not know me, but w r ho said he did, 
declared I w-as there. 1 Others assert that I a m in 
Naples. 

1 This story, with détail? qn.ite absurd on the face of them, AVerdet 
qnotes from M. Philarète Cliasles; which shows how even his frieiids 
and gentlemen united with his enemies in creating myths abont him. 
— Tk. 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 309 

The truth being, tbat I work more now tban I ever clicl 
in my life; and tbat never before hâve I bad suob a 
désire for independence, Rossini encouraged me by 
te'ling me he had never breathed at his ease until the 
day when lie was certain of baving bread. I am not 
there yet. 

My suit witb the ''Revue" gives me many worries. 
I must sustain the "Chronique," mas ter my financial 
crisis, work for Werdet, and work for Madame Bêcbet. 
It is enougb to die of ! And, speaking literally, 1 am 
killing myself. Physical strengtb is beginning to fail 
me. If I had the money I should be on my w T ay, for 
there is no other resource for me tban a journey of three 
months, at the least. 

You hâve not said anything to me of "Séraphita." 
Anotber month, and the true "Lys dans la Vallée" will 
be finished and out. In the opinion of ail critics, and 
mine, it will be my most perfect work in style, regard - 
ing "Séraphita" and "Louis Lambert" as exceptions. 

It appears that they are making from Dantan's bad 
caricature a horrible lithograph of me for foreign 
countries, and "Le Voleur''' has published one also. 
Tins obliges me to bave myself painted, and abandon 
my habit of modesty. After examining the présent 
condition of French art, and in default of your clear 
Grosclaude, who left me in the hirch, I hâve elected 
Louis Boulanger to portray me. As you w T ished for a 
copy of that which Grosclaude dcsired to do, I ask you 
candidly if you would like a second original of the 
portrait which Boulanger is to make? I ask this the 
more easily as the price is very much less. I think he 
does not ask more than fifteen hundred francs, which 
will be full length, the size of nature. If you would 
like the bust only, say so. 

I am at this moment in a state of moral and physical 
exhaustion of which I can give you no idea. I bave 



310 Honoré de Balzac. [183G 

even extrême sufferings. Every evening an inflamma- 
tion of the eyes warns me that I hâve goue beyond my 
strength, and yet I was never so much iii need of it. 

Never bave i gone through such extrêmes of bope and 
of despair. Sometimes the afïair of the "Cent Contes 
Drolatiques " (whieh would wiiolly liquidate me) seems 
to be settled, sometimes it will not be settled at ail. 
Sometimes my money matters bave an air of arranging 
themselves, and then ail fails. Around me my friends 
are in trouble. Madame de Berny bas not yet been 
willing since the death of lier son to see me. She sees 
no one but lier eldest son. My heavy coîd bas returned. 
Body and soûl are wrung. The ncwspapers are full of 
redoubled hâte and malevolence. That is nothing to 
me, but there are many meii who would not be as 
philosophieal. 

And now, to crown this poesy of ill, this sorrowful 
situation, you leavc me one whole month without letters, 
to mn the gamut of suppositions and believe daily that 
some grievous news Avili reach me. For several days 
past, life, thus made, seems odious. Nine years of toil 
without immédiate resuit, without means of living ob- 
tained — this kills me, in addition to ail the other causes 
of distress I hâve enumerated. 

I bave not been ont three timcs this winter. I dined 
with Madame Kisseleff, and once with Madame Appony, 
and I went to a fanev bail given by an Englishman, and, 
six times in ail, to the Ttalian Opéra. But nothing dis- 
tracts my mind or amuses me. Since the pleasure that I 
had in travelling so rapidly to Vienna I bave tasted the 
delights of Nature seen on a grand scale ; I bave con- 
ceived the mightiest of arts — that which puts into the 
soûl the sentiment of Nature. To grasp vast landscapes, 
to see the earth under its many colours, its thousand 
aspects, and to bave an object at the end of this kalei- 
doscopic vision — I know nothing that equals that pas- 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 311 

sage through space. There are moments when I stand 
with my head buried on the chimney-piece, engagée! in 
recalling the vast incidents of that last journey. 

I am going to order a carnage, and await my first bag 
of two thousand ducats, and my first month of liberty. 

1 entreat you, whatever liappens, never leave me a 
month again without news, and, if you are ill, dictate one 
line to M. Hanski. You don't know what troubles it 
puts into my poor solitary life. 

Jules Sandeau lias been one of my blunders. You 
cannot imagine such indolence, such nonchalance. He 
is without energy, without will. The noblest sentiments 
in words, nothing in action, or in reality. No dévotion 
of thought or of body. When I had spent on him what 
a great seigneur would spend on a caprice, I said to him : 

" Jules, hère is a drama, write it. And after that 
another, and a vaudeville for the Gymnase." 

Pie answered that it was impossible for him to put him- 
self in the train of any one, no matter who. As that 
implied that I speculated on his gratitude, I did not 
insist. He would not even put his name to a work doue 
in common. 

" Well, then, get a living by writing books?" 

He lias not, in three years, written half a volume. 
Criticism? He thinks that too difficuit. He is a stable 
horse. He is the despair of friendship, as he was the 
despair of love. That 's over; as soon as I get the La 
Grenadière, I shall leave the rue Cassini. 

The two young men, de Belloy and de Gramont, hâve 
not the flrm will that enables a man to rise above adver- 
sity and men^ and to make for himself the events of his 
life. They will not subordinate themselves to reach a 
resuit. In France, associations of men are impossible, 
partly because of individual pretensions, parti y because 
of wit, talent, name, and fortune, four causes of insubor- 
dination, Since I hâve taken Dioçenes' lantern to look 



312 Honore de Balzac. [i836 

througli tins vaunted Paris for men of talent I hâve heard 
many a cry of poverty ; but wlien you offer to those who 
utter the cry money for work well donc, tbey " can't do 
it," and I hâve not obtained the work. 

Capefigue is m y editor [on the " Chronique de Paris''] 
and takes my directions. A good littîe political condot- 
tiere ! Mon Dieu, how heartily you would laugh if I 
were in the chimney-eorner at Wierzchownia explaining 
to you what I see hère daiîy. 

Well, hère are piles of proof to send off, and mneh 
work to finish. My spirit, one moment let loose to roain 
across your lamls, must résume its yoke of miscry. L 
am in the rue Cassini ; I hâve no autograph to send you ; 
J came near asking at the Court of Peers for one of 
Fieschi, but I thouglit it might not be agreeable to you. 

The other day I went to Frascati, ont of euriosity, to 
see a gambîing-house. There 1 found a persou of your 
acquaintanee — one who was the devoted, in Geneva, of 
JMadame Marie. Ile told me lie h ad corne there for the 
first time. ITe was playing rraps [a game of dice] with 
incredible facility, practice, and cleverness ; and ail the 
women who were présent knew liim. I laughed in my 
sleeve. Day before yesterday he invited me to a mag- 
nificent dinner at the Rocher de Cancale, where were 
Madame Kisseielï and Madame Hamelin, an elderly 
celebrity. Among the guests was an illustrions friend of 
the présent King of Sardinia, who lias just returned to 
power. J set a trap for the friend of the dear Countess 
Marie. On leaving at eleven o'clock I said to him: — 

"It is too late for the théâtres, will you go and 
play?" 

We went to the "Salon des Etrangers." He was as 
well known in that place as P>arnbbas, and, to my great 
astonishment, I found there ail the most virtuous and 
ranfjéfî men of the great world. And what did I see a 
quarter of an hour later? The friend of the King of 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 313 

Sardinia, who hacl told us lie had a rendezvous to avoid 
coming out with us ! And this dear Italian said to me, 
pointing to our late Amphytrion : — 

fct You know the Italiau proverb : 4 gambler like a Pôle.' " 
The friend of the Countess Marie is henceforth to me 
a book in winch I can read at any time. Little Komar 
was there also. That young man, old in the flower of 
his âge, makes me ache to see him. I perceive that in 
order to understand society I must go to such places 
three times a year, to know the men with whom one lias 
to do. Thèse are the only two times in my life that I 
hâve set foot in such dens. I shall return to the Salon 
once more to see Hope play ; he stakes a hundred thousand 
francs with supernatural indolence, confronting chance, 
as one power stands facing another power. 

Addio ! I am awaiting a letter froin you. Last night 
I dreamed that I saw a letter and a parcel sent by you ; 
in the parcel were apples. I ne ver had so real a dream. 
When Auguste came to wake me at five in the morning, 
I said, "Where are the apples?" Ile saw I had been 
dreaming. I wish I could explain thèse dreams. 

Paris, March 24, 1836. 

At length I hâve received your last letter, numbered 
5, a whole montli after its predecessor! Being in the 
rue Cassini, I cannot verify whether I hâve received 
No. 4. 

To what you ask of me, the friend says: No. But 
there is, in me, another personage, too proud to answer 
otherwise than by a y es when the matter concerned is 
something that amuses you. There are two things in 
my nature: childlike trust, and a total lack of egoism. 

You are amusing yourself at Kiew, while I am inter- 
dicted even the Italian Opéra. Never was my solitude 
so complète, nor my work so cruelly continuons. My 
health is so affected that I cannot prétend to recover 



314 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

tliat air of youtb to which I had tbe Tveakness io cling. 
Ail is said. If, at my âge, a mari bas never tasted pure, 
unshackled happiness, Nature vvill later prevent its being 
possible for bim to wet bis lips in tbe cup. White bairs 
cannot approacb it. Life will bave been for me a most 
sorrowful jest. My ambitions are falîing one by one. 
Power is a small matter. Nature created in me a being 
of love and tenderness, and chance bas constrained me 
to write my desires instead of satisfying tbem. 

If betwcen now and tbree years bence notbing is 
cbanged in my existence, I sball retire, peacefully, to 
Touraine, living on tbe banks of tbe Loire, bidden from 
ail, and working only to fil 1 tbe empty bours. I sball 
even abandon my great work, My forces are being 
exbausted in tbis struggle; it is lasting too long; it is 
wearing me ont. 

And } T et, tbe affair of tbe "Cent Contes Drolatiques" 
seeins as if it migbt be settled, and Ibat would render 
my financial condition endurable; but it drags along in 
a despair ing way. Jt will save me when J am dead. I 
bave earned in tbe niass tbis year a sum mucb greater 
than what I owe; but tbe debts bave lixed dates for 
becoming due, and tbe receipts are caprieious, 

Around me I bave no one, or else only powerless 
friendships; for tbe nature of certain soûls is to attacb 
themselves only to those who suffer. 

Frigbtened by tbis struggle, and not being willing 
even to see it, Jules Sandeau bas fled from bere, leaving 
me his rent, and a few debts on my bands. He is a 
man at sea, drifting, as tbey say of a vessel vvrecked 
in mid-ocean, and battered by tbe gale. Like Medea, 
I bave mi/self only against ail. Nothing is cbanged in 
my situation. I migbt write you for six montbs, and 
say but one thing: I toil. T bave no longer any distrac- 
tions, any amusements — tbe désert, and tbe sun ! 

I smiled in thinking tliat Madame Eve Ilanska, to 



183G] Letters to Madame Hanska. 315 

whoin "Séraphita 1 ' is dedicated, plays lansquenet, and 
that this solitary personage is immersed in ail mundane 
things. 

Wednesday, 23. 

My lawsuit with the "Revue de Paris" will be tried 
the day after to-morrow, Friday. The verdict will 
enable me to fix the day for putting out "Le Lys dans la 
Vallée " for sale. You can only know what that book is 
by reading it in full in Werdet's édition, which makes 
two handsome volumes, 8vo. ïhe first is printed; I 
hâve just, before writing to you, signed the order to 
print tlie last feuille of that volume. I had several 
sentences to re-write in a letter from Madame de Mortsauf 
to Félix, which made Madame Hamelin weep — so she 
told me. Nothing of ail that was in your infamous 
"Revue ; " nor was there anything of ail my labour, which 
turned my bad manuscript into a work of style. You 
read the manuscript in Vienna, 

Yesterday they brought me ail the writings of "Séra- 
phita" bound, The manuscript is in gray cloth, with 
the inside of black satin, and the back of Russia leather, 
to ward off worms. I hâve also ail the writings of the 
"Lys." But hovv can I send you thèse things? I 
can't understand how it is that you hâve not received 
my letters, for I answer ail yours regularly; and I wrote 
you one, lately, full of anxiety, which this one, just 
received, lias calmed. But I imagine that having always 
addressed them to Berditchef they are still at Wierz- 
chownia, unless they hâve sent them to you in a mass to 
Kiew. 

I hâve been twice to the Exhibition at the Muséum. 
We are not strong. If you had money to spend on 
objects of art I should hâve asked you to make a few 
fine purchases, for there are two or three things that are 
really beautiful, — a Venus by Pradier, and one or two 



316 .Honore de Balzac. [1836 

pictures. Your friend Grosclaude bas nothing in it, 
and 1 hear nothing more about him. 

I am wholly taken up with tbe last work for Madame 
Bechet, wlio, did I tell you? is marrying, and quits 
publisbing for kappiness. Nothing will be fui! y decided 
abont îny poor finances until after tbe publication of tbe 
last volume for Madame Bôchet. Tbat is, for me, one 
of tbe cuiminating points of my fortune; for I can tben 
begin tbe publication of tbe tbirteen succeeding volumes, 
and receive about twelve tbousand francs for tbe copies 
which belong to me. 

I knovv nothing of you except froin you, for of the 
country you are now in I know nothing but tbat which 
you tell me; I imagine you welcomed, feted, as you 
would be wherever you went. But sucb pleasure, is it 
really pleasure? You were tired of it in Vienna, but 
you renew it at Kiewî 

You would know bow I love you if you bad seen me 
searebing tbrough your letter ail at once, taking in, at a 
glance, eacb page, to see if Anna, if you, if M. Hanski, 
if ail, were well. Tben, seeing tbat no one but a nièce 
was ill, and tbat sbe bad recovered, I gave a great sigb 
of relief. You would then bave known how T restricted 
are my affections; bow few beings interest me. Tbis 
solitude is sad, because, believe me, one wearies of tbe 
labours tbat fill it, and the heart never loses its claims; 
it needs expansions. I often make sad élégies when, 
weary of writing, I lie back in my chair, and rest my 
bead upon it, and ask myself why a soûl like mine is 
hère, alone, without otber joy tban a few memories, as 
few as they are great. And when I see tliat wbat 
remains to me of îife is the least fortunate half, tbe 
least active, the least loved, the least lovable, I am not 
exempt froin a sadness tbat sbeds tears. 

I will Write you as soon as I bave finalîy arranged a 
tbing wbicb may settle my troubles ; for I bave resolved 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 317 

to sell some of my shares in tbe "Chronique de Paris" 
in order to liquidate myself more rapidly. To-day, I 
am in the greatest uncertainty and overwhelmed with 
claims. 

Well, adieu. In a few days I may write to you of 
gayer things. But I doubt it. My health is extremely 
bad. Coffee no longer procures me mental force. I 
must be rich enough to travel. 

Thursday, 21. 
I open my letter to add several tbings. 

Tbe first is a bout your cramps. Hâve two irons made 
tbat you can grasp at tbe moment tbe cramps seize 
you; bave tbem made strongly magnetic. Hère is the 
sbape: O. As soon as you hold tbem in your hand tbe 
cramps will cease. If that does not stop tbem, write 
to me. But be sure the irons are strongly magnetized, 
and keep tbem near you, at your bed's head, 

Fear nothing about corrections. In our language 
there are incontestable tbings. Ask for the third édition 
of tbe "Médecin de campagne," just out; read it. You 
will see if it is not improved. There are stili a hundred 
incorrectnesses. It will only be perfect in the fourth 
édition. Reread "Louis Lambert" in the "Livre Mys- 
tique," — that is, if such work pleases you; if not, it 
becomes wearisome. 

No, no, style is style. Massillon is Massillon, ancl 
Racine is Racine. According to the critics, the "Lys" 
is my culminating point. You will judge of it. 

In rereading your letter I fincl some bitter little epi- 
grams against life; but, surely, there are enormous 
sufferings which you do not know, and never can know. 
The openings of life are never delightful except in the 
matter of sentiment. I will prove to you that there is 
something more delightful : I mean the perfect quiétude 
of a life beloved, of a constancy intellectual enough to 
destroy monotony. 



318 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

Adieu, re-adieu — if, indeed, that word is a friend's 
word. It sliould be au revoir, for in writing to you I 
bave, like ail solitaries, the gift of second sight, and 
I see you perfectly. Kiss Anna on the forehead from 
me for tbe joys she gives you; bave tbe irons niade at 
once, so tbat you may no longer curse life; wbicb is a 
serious insuit to tbose vvbo love you; amuse yourseîf 
witbout dissipation; for dissipation fritters away tbe 
soûl, and is to tbe détriment of ail affections. 

Hère is a return to tbe lansquenet, and for tbat I beg 
your pardon ; you bave a soûl ricb enougb to tbrow a 
little of it into cards if it pleases you. As for me, who 
live under tbe despotic rule of a Cbartreux, I find I bave 
not soûl enougb to suffice for my work and my affections. 
But I bave not tbe luck to be a woman. 

Paris, Mardi 27, 1836. 

I receive to-day your good packet, my dear number 7, 
in wbicb you tell me of two afflicting deatbs, but in 
wbicb you also give me mucb pleasure by tbe exact 
détail of wbat bappens to you. I am going, tberefore, 
to write you at lengtb on ail tbat } t ou inquire about ; but on 
condition tbat you write to me punctually every week. 

Your passage about fidelity, understood, after tbe 
Wronski manner, as intuitive trutb, made my beart bound 
witb joy. We love to find our own ideas expressed by 
a friend and to know tbat the moral sensations of botb 
are of equal purity. Is not tbis tbe sentiment tbat a fine 
passage of Beethoven makes us feel, by representing to 
us, in its purest expression, a wbole sentiment, a whole 
nature? For myself, I am convinced tbat in carrying 
very higb our sentiments we multiply a tliousand-fold our 
pleasures ; a little lower, and ail would be suffering ; but 
in the heaven above us ail is infinité. Tbis is wbat 
your " Séraphita " shows. IIow is it you hâve not 
received February 24 (old style) a book published bere in 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 319 

December? It is no longer even spoken of in France. 
Wbat grief that I cannot obtain a permit for a single 
parcel to Wierzchownia. 1 '11 go myself to Saint Peters- 
burg and ask one of the Emperor ! What ! you, to whom 
the statue belougs, you hâve not seen it! It is not in the 
temple for winch it was made ! Everybody hère has 
wondered over the cledication, and you hâve not read it 
printecl, when the author is your devoted moujik. The 
world is upside down ! 

You are always talking tome of that détestable "Lys" 
which is not my " Lys." Wait, in orcler to know " Le 
Lys dans la Vallée," for Werdet's édition. 

Your poor moujik will never be impertinent or défiant. 
But, writing in great haste, from heart to heart, and 
never reading over a letter, there may hâve been, apropos 
of Roger, a little too hearty a laugh — which was not 
right. No, cara, Nature gave me a trustfulness un- 
bounded, a soûl that is proof against everything. I hâve 
always had in me a something, I don't know what, which 
leads me to do quite otherwise than other people, and it 
may be that in me ficlelity is pride. Having no other 
point of support but myself, I hâve been forced to mag- 
nify it, to rein force the myself. Ail my life is there ; a 
life without vulgar pleasures. None of those who are 
near me w T ould live it " at the priée of Napoleon's and 
Byron's famé united," de Belloy said to me. But de 
Belloy saw only the hermit on his rock with his cruse and 
his loaf not bestowing a glance on the siren tempters. 
He did not see the ecstasy in the heavens, he did not 
know the revery, the evenings, the chimney-corner, the 
poems of Hope î I am a gambîer, poor to the eyes of ail ; 
but I play my whole fortune once a year, when I gather in 
that which others sqfuander ! 

My lawsuit has been postponed for a fortnight. Chaix 
d'Estange, who pleads against me, had to plead a case in 
the provinces. There 's the " Lys " delayed! 



320 Honore de Balzac. [1836 

You ask for détails about the " Chronique de Paris." 
I hâve not given you any because it was a paper both 
jiolitical and literary — Bedouck / — I forget nothing that 
I ought to do. Did I not tell you in Geneva that within 
three years I should begin to build the scaffolding for my 
political prépondérance? Did I not repeat it in Vienna? 
Well, the " Chronique" is the old " Globe" (same idea) 
but placed to the Right instead of being to the Left ; it is 
the new doctrine of the Koyalist party. We make the 
Opposition, and we preaeh autocratie power ; that means 
that on arriving at the management of afïairs we shall 
not be found in contradiction with what we hâve said. I 
ain the suprême director of tins journal, which appears 
twice a week, in a monstrous quarto form. Jt gives the 
amount of four feuilles of the " Revue de Paris," which 
makes eight a week; and w T e cost only sixty francs a 
year, wmereas the " Revue" costs eighty, and gives only 
four feuilles a w T eek. The higher criticism of politics, 
literature, art, sciences, administration, and a portion 
devoted to individual work, novels, etc., that is the scheme 
of the paper. 

We hâve obtained Gustave Planche, an immense and 
grand critic. We are going to hâve Sainte-Beuve, and, 
perhaps, Victor Hugo. Capefigue is charged with domes- 
tic politics, and does it pretty weil. I hâve an interest 
which is équivalent to thirty-two thousand francs capital, 
and if the u Chronique " goes beyond two thousand sub- 
scribers it may bring me in twenty thousand francs income, 
not counting my work, very dearly paid, and my salary as 
director. We hâve enough funds to go on for two years. 
We are between the "Gazette de France," the "Quoti- 
dienne," and the Right Centre. Thèse two newspapers 
are so placed that they can make no concessions to the 
présent régime, whereas w r e can, ourselves, compromise. 
We are going to ask to be allowed to enter Russia, be- 
cause we are in favour of an alliance with Russia against 



1836] Letters to Madame HansJca. 321 

an English alliance, and for autocracy in the matter of 
government. Our doctrines as to criticism of art and 
literature are in favour of the highest moral expression. 
Is there not something grandiose in this enterprise? So, 
for the three months that I hâve now directed it, it has 
gained claily in respect and authority ; only, the costs do 
crush us. Each feuille pays ten centimes tax to the 
treasury, and we hâve to go into bonds for seventy-five 
thousand francs in specie. 

Extraordinary thing ! It is this very opération that 
will financially save me. I hope to-morrow to sell six- 
teen of my shares (without cutting into the thirty-two). 
Besides which, the affair of the " Cent Contes Drolatiques/' 
published in numbers and illustrated, appears on the point 
of being conclucled. Louis Boulanger will do the drawings, 
and Perret the wood-cuts. Six thousand copies are to 
be struck on , which will give me thirty thousand francs 
of author's rights. So, in a few days from now, I shall 
hâve before me forty-five thousand francs, w T ithout count- 
iug the twenty-four thousand aw T aiting me on the day 
wdien Madame Bêche t gets lier last Part. In ail, seventy 
thousand francs. Now, as Ionly owe fifty thousand (not 
counting the debt to my mother), I shall see the end of my 
miseries. 

But let me paint to you one of the thousand dramas of 
my life as artist and soldier. On my return from Vienna 
(you know what disasters that absence caused me), my 
siiver-plate was pawned. I hâve never yet been able to 
redeem it. I hâve to pay three thousand francs to do so, 
and I hâve never had three thousand francs. I owe on 
the 31st about eight thousand four hundred. In order to 
ïive honourably until now, and meet ail my obligations, I 
hâve used up my resources ; ail are exhausted. I am, as 
it w r ere, at Marengo. Desaix must corne and Kellermann 
must charge ; then ail is said. But, the men who are to 
give me sixteen thousand francs for my sixteen shares in 

21 



322 Honoré de Balzac, [1836 

the "Chronique" are coming to cline with me. You 
know that people lend and show confidence to none but 
the rich. Ail about me breathes opulence, ease, the 
wealth of a lucky artist. If at the diuner my silver is 
hired, ail will fail ; the man wlio is arranging the afïair is 
a painter, — an observing race, satirical, deep, like Henri 
Monnier, in its coup cVœtl ; lie will see the weak spot in 
the cuirass, lie will guess the Mont-de-Piété — which he 
knows better than any one. Adieu, my affair. Ail my 
future lies in redeeming that silver, which is worth five 
thousand francs and is pledged for three thousand. I 
must hâve it to-morrow^, or perish. Is n't it curious? 
This is the 27th; on the 31st of Mardi I must pay six 
thousand francs, and I hâve n't a farthing. But on the 
5th of April the signing of the " Drolatiques " affair may 
give me fifteen thousand francs ! 

I cannot ask a single person in Paris to lend me money, 
for I am thought rich and my prestige would fall, w^ould 
vanish away. The affair of the u Chronique " is due to 
the crédit I enjoy. I was able to speak en maître. Put 
oil on this flame by representing to yourself the perpétuai 
lire, the ardour of a soûl that is consuming itself, and tell 
me if that is not a draina. One ought to be a great finan- 
cier, a cold, wise, prudent man; one must be! — I say no 
more, for yesterday one of my friends said truly : " When 
your statue is macle it ought to be in bronze, to rightly 
picture the man." 

My health is at this moment so greatly affecte d that Dr. 
Nacquart issues an edict wdiieh lias to be obeyed. Coffee 
is suppressed. Every evening they put upon my stomach 
a linseed poultice. I am kept on chicken broth, and eat 
nothing but white méat. I driuk gum water, and they give 
me inward sédatives. I hâve to follow this regimen for 
ten days and then go to Touraine for a month, to recover 
life and health. Ail the mucous membranes are violently 
infiamed ; I cannot digest without horrible suffering. 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 323 

If my money matters could be well done, and done 
quickly, instead of going to ïouraine I would go and see 
you for a few da.ys. Would it be possible? I clesire it 
so keenly. A journey would restore me. In any case, do 
not be vexed with me ; it is better to do my business and 
pay my debts, to recover my sacred liberty, to be able to 
corne and go as I like, to owe neitber sou nor Une, and 
postpone the joy of seeing you. Better to put one's for- 
tune in a place inaccessible to storm, than to discount it 
like a spendthrift. 

I may tell you now that the dawn of my libération be- 
gins to show, and that ail foretells the end of my troubles. 
The journey to Vienna was the signal folly of my life. It 
cost five thousand francs and upset ail my affairs. We 
can laugh about it, and I do not tell it to you now to give 
myself the smallest little merit, but only to prove to you 
that if I do not go to see you it is from a wise calculation 
of friendship ; it is a proof of attachment ; it will enable 
me to show you a friend whom you hâve ne ver yet known, 
the man a child, without cares, without troubles that gnaw 
the heart, taking from him his grâce, distorting his nature, 
everything, even to his glance. 

If you only knew how, after this solitary life, I long to 
grasp Nature by a rapid rush across Europe, how my soûl 
thirsts for the immense, the infinité ; for Nature seen in 
the mass, not in détail, judged on its grand Unes, some- 
times darnp with rain, sometimes rich with sun, as we 
bound across space, seeing lands instead of villages ! If 
you knew this you would not tell me to corne, for that re- 
doubles my torture, it fans the furnace on which I sleep. 1 

1 Hère is one of his rare révélations of the soûl of his work, of that 
which produced it, which conceived, for instance, the li Majesty of cold," 
the scène on the Falberg, the breaking of the ice-bonds in " Séraphita." 
The reader must hâve perceived how little, amid his overwhelming talk 
about his work, lie revealed the mind behind the work. That was 
partly because lie never thought of it as a personal thing. He did not 
weaken his work by a study of lus own mind : that is Genius. — Tr. 



824 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

Grant heaven tbat I sell the sixteen shares of the 
" Chronique " and that the matter of the " Drolatiques" 
may be décidée! . And then, then ! Above ail, if Werclet 
can buy back from Madame Bêchet the "Études de 
Mœurs," then T could travel, I could go and spend a week 
at Wierzchownia. You would find the heart of the intel- 
lectual moujik ever young, but the moujik himself is 
deteriorating physically. li No one fights with impunity 
against the will of Nature/' Dr. Nacquart said to me yes- 
terday, ordering me his prescriptions and wanting things 
I refused : such as not working, and taking much amuse- 
ment — whieh the Wronski theory forbids. As for me, I 
love the noble absolute. I don't forget how indulgent 
you were in your advice at Vienna ; but I hâve intolérant 
superstitions. 

I hâve long thought what I wrote to you about your 
brother; this is not a consolation ad hoc, it is a senti- 
ment of my own ; there are none but those that hâve an 
iron will who can be indulgent to such weaknesses, for they 
hâve often been so near, they hâve so often measured the 
depths of the gulf ! But thèse thoughts are not social ; 
they can only be uttered in the ear of a friend; they would 
do us harm. One must be AValter Scott to risk Con- 
nachar in the "Fair Maid of Perth." And yet, I mean 
to go fartlier ; I shall give in tc Les Héritiers Boirouge " 
| never published] a body to my thoughts. I shall there 
introduce a personage of that kind, but to my mind, more 
grandiose. I was able to give interest to Vautrin; I shall 
be able to raise fallen men and give them an auréole by 
introducing cornmon souîs into those soûls, whose weak- 
ness is the abuse of strength, and wlio fall because they 
go beyoncl it. 

The loss of your sister's child is a dreadful misfortune, 
about which only mothers understand each other, for they 
alone are in the secret of what they lose ; but at your sis- 
ter's âge, such losses are réparable. Chiidren, considered 



1836] Letters to Madame Haiiska. 325 

in their vital future are one of the great social monstrosi- 
ties. There are few fathers who give themselves the 
trouble to reiiect ou their cluties. My father had made 
great studies on this subject ; he commuuicated them to 
me (I meau their results) at au early âge, and I gained 
fixed ideas which dictated to me the " Physiologie du 
Mariage," — a book more profound than satirical or 
llippant ; which will be completed by my great work on 
"Education" takeu in its broad meauing, which I carry 
up to before génération, for the child is in the father. I 
am a great proof, and so is my sister, of the principles of 
my father. Ile was fifty-nine years old when I was born, 
and sixty-three when my sister was born. Now, through 
the power of our vitality we hâve both f ailed to succumb ; 
we hâve centenarian constitutions. Without that power 
of force and life transmitted by my father I should be dead 
under my debts and obligations. 

I see the children of rich families ail enervated by the 
situation of their fathers and mothers. The mother is 
worn-out by society, the father by his vices ; their children 
are weakly. But thèse great and fruitful ideas do not 
come within the epistolary domain. The question is im- 
mense ; it lias innumerable ramifications. It often absorbs 
me. It is not suitable to discuss hère, but I refer it to 
Sterne, whose opinions I share entirely. " Tristram 
Shandy" is, in this respect, a masterpiece. 

I cannot tell you anything of Paris ; I live in a monk's 
round, directing my newspaper, writing, contending, more 
occupied in divining secrets of State than those surround- 
ing me. I want power in France, and I shall hâve it; 
but one must be well prepared for the battle, and trained 
in ail questions. When a man of a certain compass does 
not absorb himself in the real and material joys of love, 
he must either give himself up to ambition, or vow his life 
to obscurity. Ail médium stations are ignoble and vulgar. 
My youth is near to extinction without ever being fully 



326 Honore de Balzac. [1836 

satisfied by the only destiny that I had ; for Madame de 
Berny was not young, and, believe me, youth and beauty 
are something. My dream of those days was always in- 
complète. If I continue my présent life without ebange 
for only six years more, J can truly say tbat my life is a 
failure. My life was Diodati. Two years, tbree years 
would suftice. The month of May, ltfoO, is approaching 
and I shall be thirly-seven years old ; as yet I am noth- 
ing ; I bave donc nothing complète or great ; I bave only 
heaped up stones. In that young Coliseurn now construet- 
ing there is no sun, or at least its rays corne from afar, so 
far that the soûl bas need of imagination to give being to 
the monument. Eut neitber famé nor fortune gives back 
the grâce of youth. Something superhuman is needed to 
meet witb love when one is past forty. TV bat a measure 
of belief in one's self — I do not say in otbers — to hope 
to eseape the common law ! And yet I am ail faith. AYhen 
troubles hâve gone I shall be twenty years old once more. 
And then I wish to be so good. 

Well, adieu. I désire that this letter full of hope may 
be confirmed to you by the next, for as soon as the two 
affairs are concluded, I will write you a line. 

Answer me quickly about the portrait. Louis Bou- 
langer is to paint it. Ile bas just left me, witb the inten- 
tion of making a great work of it. 

Paris, 'April 23, 1836. 
Gara. I receive to-day your number 8 witb twenty 
days' interval. IIow many things bave happened in 
twenty days! Yes, I bave delayed writing, but inten- 
tionally. I wanted to send you only good news, and my 
affairs bave been getting worse and worse. I bave none 
but dreadful combats to relate to you, struggies, sufferings, 
useless measures taken, nights without sleep. To listen 
to my life a démon would we*ep. 

Reading the last paragraphs of your letter I said to 



1836] Letters to Madame Sanska. 327 

myself, u Well, I will write to lier, even if to saclden 
lier." Sorrow has a strong life, too strong perhaps. 

My lawsuit is not y et tried. I must wait six days 
more for a verdict, unless the trial is still f urther post- 
poned. The matter of the "Contes Drolatiques" is not 
decided. The shares of the " Chronique " are difficult to 
dispose of. So, my embarrassments redouble. For two 
months, since I hâve had so much business, I hâve clone 
Httle work ; hère are two months lost ; that is to say, the 
goose with the golden eggs is ill. Not only a m I clis- 
couraged, but the imagination needs rest. A journey of 
two months would restore me. But a journey of two 
months means ten thousand francs, and I cannot hâve 
that sum when, on the contrary, I am behindhand with 
just tliat money. My libération retreats ; my dear inde- 
pendence cornes not. 

" Le Livre Mystique" is little liked hère; the sale of 
the second édition does not go on . But in foreign 
countries it is very différent ; there the f eeling is passion- 
ate. I hâve just received a very graceful letter from a 
Princess Angelina Radziwill, who envies you your dedi- 
cation, and says it is ail of life for a woman to hâve 
inspired that book. I was very pleased for you. Mon 
Dieu! if you could hâve seen how in my quivering there 
was nothing personal. How happy I was to feel myself 
full of pride for you I What a moment of complète 
pleasure, and ail unmixed ! I shall thank the princess for 
you and not for myself — as we give treasures to a doctor 
who saves a beioved person. Besides, tins is the first tes- 
timony to my success which has reached me from abroad. 

(7a ra, write me quickly if you hâve any very trust- 
worthy person in Saint Petersburg, because I hâve the 
means, or shall hâve, to send you those manuscripts 
through the French embassy. They can instantly reach 
Saint Petersburg ; but from there to you, you must find 
the intermediarv. 



328 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

My letter was interrupted by tjie arrivai of a commis- 
sary of police and two agents, wlio arrested me, and took 
me to tlie prison of the National Guard, where I am at 
this moment, and where I continue my letter peacefully. 
1 am hère for live days. I sliall celebrate the birthday 
of the Kmg of the French. But I lose the fine fireworks 
I intended to go and see ! x 

My publisher [Werdet] lias corne, and given me an 
explanation of the non-arrival of the ct Livre Mystique" 
to your hands. It is forbidden by the censor. So now 
I don't know what we sliall do. 1s it not singular that 
the person to whom it is dedicated should be the only one 
wlio lias not readit? You must lind ont what is proper 
to do about it. I await your orders. 

Ilere are ail my ideas put to fliglit. This prison is 
horrid ; ali the prisoners are together. It is cold, and we 
hâve no fire. Tlie prisoners are of the lowest class, they 
are playing cards and shouting. Impossible to hâve a 
moment's tranquiîlity. They are mostly poor workmen, 
who cnnnot .give two days of their time to guard duty 
witliout losing tlie subsistence of their families ; and hère 
and there are a few artists and writers, for whom this 
prison is even botter tîian the guard-house. They say the 
beds are dreadful. 

1 Fnder Louis-Philippe ail citîzens w r ere compelled to leave thoir 
homes and do guard-duty, or, as Werdet says, paddle in the miul with 
knapsaeks on their baeks and muskets on their shoulders, for one or 
two nights evcry month. Many were the deviccs of worthy citizens to 
escape this nuisance. "Balzac retreated to Chaillot and fenced himself 
in with a séries of pass-words that made aecess to him nearly impos- 
sible. Ile was, however, so Werdet says, summoned twelve times 
hefore the anthorities, and escaped only by bribing the agents. But 
the thirtcenth time lie was "empoigné" and locked up in what was 
satirically cnlled the " Hôtel des Haricots." Werdet's account of this 
is xory amusing (pp. 247-272 of his book), but absolutely false, for lie 
gives an account of how the famous cane originated in the prison, 
whereas we know that Balzac described it to Madame Ilauska 
Mardi 30, 18.15, more than a y car eariier. — Tr. 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 829 

I hâve just got a table, a sofa, and a chair, and I ara 
in a corner of a great, bare hall. Ilere I shall finish the 
u Lys dans la Vallée." Ail my affairs are suspended ; 
and this happens on a day when my paper appears, and 
almost on the eve of the oOth, when I hâve three thou- 
sand francs to pay. 

This is one of the thousand accidents of onr Parisian 
life ; and every clay the like happens in ail business. A 
man on whom y ou count to do you a service is in the 
country, and your plan fails. A sum that should hâve 
been paid to you is not paid. You must make ten tramps 
to find some one (and often at the last moment) for the 
success of some important matter. You can never imag- 
ine how much agony accompanies thèse hours, thèse days, 
lost. Many a time I hâve lain down wearied, — incapable 
of unclertaking to write a single word, of thinking my 
most dear ideas ! 

I cannot too often repeat it — it is a battle equal to 
those of war ; the saine fatigues under other forms. No 
real benevolence, no succour. Ail is protestation without 
efficacy. I hâve vanquished for six years, even seven ; 
well, discouragement lays hold upon me when only one 
quarter of my debt remains to be paid, the last quarter. 
I don't know what to do. My life stops short before 
those last four thousand ducats. 

Monday, 25th. 
I have ngain interrupted my letter for forty-eiglit 
hours. Just as I was writing the word ducats Eugène 
Sue arrivée!. He is imprisoned for forty-eight hours. 
We have spent the m together, and 1 would not continue 
this letter before him. He talked to me of his occupa- 
tions, of his fortune. He is rich, and sheltered from 
everything. He no longer thinks of literature; he lives 
for himself alone ; he has developed a complète selfish- 
ness -, he does nothing for others, ail for himself ; he 



330 Honore de Balzac. [1836 

wants, at the end of his clay, to be able to say that ail 
that he lias clone, and ail that lias been doue was for hirn. 
AVoman is merely an instrument; lie does not wish to 
marry. He is incapable of feeling any sentiment. I 
listened to ail this tranquilly, tliinking of my interrupted 
letter. It pained me for him. Oh ! thèse forty-eight 
hours were ail I needed to prove to me that men without 
ambition love no one. Ile went away, without thanking 
me for having sacrificed for him the concession I had 
obtained of being alone in the dormitory ; for his admis- 
sion came near compromising the little comforts a few 
friends had extracted for me from the inflexible staff of 
grocers, anxious to club ail classes together in this fetid 
galley. I am going to bed. 

Saturday, 30. 

Great news ! The bill for the latéral canal in the 
Lower Loire, which will go from Nantes to Orléans, lias 
passed the Chamber of Deputies, and will be presented, 
May 3, to the Chamber of Peers, where the Marquis de 
la Place, the friend of ail pupils of the École Polytech- 
nique, lias promised my brother-in-law to hâve it passed. 
So, there are my sister and lier husband attaining, after 
ten years' struggle, to their ends. You know I told you 
at Oeneva about that fine enterprise. Now, the only 
point is to find the twenty-six millions. But that is 
nothing after what lias been doue. The stock will be 
rated so high that money will not be lacking. 

At this moment I hâve a hope on my own account. 
That is to buy the grant of the grantee, M. de VilleA^êqne, 
and try to make something on it by selling to a ]ianker. 
JMy brother-in-law lias just left my prison to try and 
arrange this afïair. If I hâve this luck, I rniglit in two 
months make a couple of hundred thousand francs, wiiich 
would heal ail my wounds. It is especially in i)olitical 
warfare that money is the nerve. 

Sue drew caricatures with pen and ink on a bit of 



1836] Letters to Madame HansJca. 331 

paper to which lie put his name ; so I send it to you as 
autographe It will remincl you of my seven clays in 
prison. 

Hère, I am dying of consuniing activity, while, from 
what you say, you are liviug in stagnation, without ali- 
ment, without your émotions of travel,. which makes you 
désire either travel or complète solitude. What you tell 
me of Anna delights me ; I had some fears for that frail 
health, but the fears came from my affection, for I know 
that thèse organizations, apparently weak, are sometimes 
of astonishing power. 

I hâve just written to Hammer; lie asked me for a 
second copy of 4l Le Livre Mystique." I shall send him 
two ; and as our dear Hammer isas patient as a goat that 
is strangling herself, and thinks that books can go as 
fast as the post, I shall request him to send you one by 
the first opportunity. That 's a first attempt, l 'Il try 
ten more, and ont of ten there may be a lucky chance. 

I hâve the set of pearls for you. But how can I send 
them ? 

When T leave.the prison T shall go and see Madame 
Kisselcff. That will be number two of my chances. 

Apropos, if you find a safe opportun ity remember my 
te a, for there is none good in Paris. I tasted your s 
(Russian, I mean) a few days ago, and I am shameless 
enough to remind you of tins. " Norma " bas had little 
suecess hère. 

The gracefulness you hâve put into your last letter 
received hère, to console me for the grief of knowing that 
the " Lys " was published in its first proof [in Russia] I 
cannot accept as anthor. The French language admits 
nothing that comforts the heart of M. Honoré de Balzac. 
You will say so with me when youhold the book and read 
it. However it be, the Apollo and the Diana are more 
beautiful than blocks of marble. The young man, the 
Oaristes, is more graceful than a skeleton, and we prefer 



332 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

the peach to the peach-stone, though that inay contain a 
million of peaches. 

I hâve much distress, even enormous distress in 
the direction of Madame de Berny ; not from her 
direetly, but from lier family. It is not of a nature to 
be written. Some evening at Wierzchownia, when the 
wounds are scars, I will tell it to y ou in murmurs that the 
spiders caimot hear, for my voice shall go from my lips 
to y oui* heart. They are dreadful things, that scoop into 
life to the bone, dellowering ail, and making one doubt 
of ail, except of y ou for whom I reserve thèse sighs. 

Oh! what repressions there are in my heart! Since I 
left Vienna ail my sufferings, of ail kinds, of ail natures, 
hâve redoublée!. Sighs sent tlirough space, sufferings 
endured in secret, sufferings unperceived ! My God ! I 
who hâve never donc ill, liow many times hâve I said to 
myself, " One year of Diodati, and the lake ! " IIow 
often hâve I thought, " Why net be dead on such a 
day, at such an hour? " Who is in the secret of so many 
inward storms, of so much passion lost in secret? Why 
are the fine years going, pursuiug hope, which escapes, 
leaving nought behind but au indefatigable ardour of 
re-hoping? During this burning year, when at every 
moment ail seems ending, and no end cornes, desires lay 
hold upon me to flee this crater which makes me fear a 
withered end — to liée it to the ends of the earth. 

I am the AVandering Jew of Thought, always afoot, 
always marching, without rest, without enjoyments of 
the heart, with nothiug but that which leaves a memory 
both rich and poor, with nothing that I can wTest from 
the future. I beg from the future, I stretch my hands to 
it. It casts me — not an obole, but — a smile that says, 
u To-morrow/' 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 333 

Paris, May 1, 1836. 

This is the rïay on which last year I saicl to myself, 
"I am going there! " Last evening, I left my window 
for saclness overcame me. Sleep drove away tlie grief. 

I hâve worked much to-day. I shall close this letter 
this evening ; I will see if I hâve forgotten to tell you 
any facts of the last twenty days, when I hâve been like 
a shuttlecock between two battledores. I am going to 
set to work at the difficult passages in the "Lys." I 
must finish the chapter entitled, " First Loves." I think 
that I hâve undertaken literary efïects that are extremely 
difficult to render. AYhat work ! What ideas are buried 
in this book ! It is the poetic pendant of the " Médecin 
de campagne." I like ail you write to me of the little 
events of your existence at Kiew: the name of Vander- 
nesse, the little lady, etc. But I would like your letters 
still better if you would write me ten lines a day ; no, 
not ten lines, but a word, a sentence. You hâve ail your 
time, and I hâve only hours stolen from sleep to offer 
you. You are the luxury of the heart, the only luxury 
that does not ruin, but brings with it nature's own sim- 
plicity, riches, poverty, — in short, ail ! 

Alas ! not being at home to-day I cannot enclose to 
you any autograph, and I hâve some interesting ones : 
Talma, Mademoiselle Mars, ail sorts of people ; I shall 
hâve one of Napoléon, one of Murât, etc. You will see 
that when a matter concerns the documentary treasures 
of Wierzchownia we hâve great constancy in our ideas. 

To-day I hâve worked much ; I shall spend the night 
on the completion of the u Lys ; " for l hâve still thirty 
feuilles of my writing to do, which is one quarter of the 
book. After that I must finish the u Héritiers Boirouge " 
for Madame Bêchet, who is married and become Madame 
Jacquillart; and next, give "La Torpille" in June to 
the " Chronique," without which we go to the bad. You 
see it is impossible that I should budge from hère before 



334 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

September ; there is nothing to be said ; those tbings 
rnust be done. After tbat I shall hâve no money, I sball 
only bave fulfilled my engagements. So I don't know 
wliich way to turn ; what witb notes falling due, no 
receipts, and no friend to advance me funds, what will 
become of me? Eitber some lucky chance or perish. 
Hitberto luck lias served me. 

Just now I am particularîy overwhelmed because I 
counted on the conclusion of the affair of tlie iL Cent 
Contes Drolatiques " wliich gave me thirty thousand 
francs and would bave quieted everything. But the 
longer it goes, the less it ends. I ammore than disheart- 
ened, I am crazy about it. 

There, then, are my affairs. Much work to finish, no 
money to receive, much money to pay. Am I to be 
stopped in the midst of my career? What can I attempt? 

My brother-in-law came back this morning. M. Laine 
de Yillevoque asks to reflect upon this sale, lie asks 
tliree days ; and tbat is the least a man should take to 
décide so important a matter. I bave offered him twenty 
thousand ducats for bis position as grantee, but in ready 
money. I hope tbat Rossini will get Aguado to lend it 
to me, and tbat J can then resell the position to Roth- 
schild for the double or treble, out of wliich those scamps 
will still make five or six millions. There 's a pretty 
smile ; the first tbat fortune bas bestowed upon me. 

You see tbat in my next letter I sball bave very inter- 
esting tbings to tell you: the canal affair; my lawsuit 
and the cc Lys," and finally " Les Drolatiques," whicb 
will be eitber a complote failure or a pièce of business 
done; in such matters I must hâve a " yes " or a " no." 

Adieu, cara; do not inake yourself unhappy about ail 
this. I bave broad shoulders, the courage of a lion, 
strength of character, and if, at times, melancholy lays 
hold upon me, I look at the future, I believe in something 
good — tbough the years do pass witb cruel rapidity ; and 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 835 

what years ! Ah, the beautif ul years ! Shall I ever 
agaln see the Lake of Geneva, or Neufchàtel? 

Well, adieu ; till ten clays hence. You will know ail 
that should be said for me and of me to those about you. 

From Monsieur Hanski to H. de Balzac. 

Wierzchownia, May 15, 1836. 

Monsieur, — Having at last, after various attempts, 
succeeded in procuring an inkstand in malachite, I hasten, 
monsieur, to send it to you through the house of Roth- 
schild. Hâve the kindness to inquire for it and to keep 
it as the souvenir of a true friendship, which cannot 
change, in spite of the vast distance that séparâtes us ; 
which thought alone can cross, for the présent. 

If God wills it as I désire, perhaps some day we shall 
corne to find you. Meanwhile, if your literary occupa- 
tions and the distractions of the world leave you a 
moment at Liberty, think sometimes of your friends in 
the North, who, in spite of their frigid climate, know how 
to feel and appreciate } r our sentiments and your talents. 

Your works, monsieur, make us pass many agreeable 
moments in our solitude. They give us even the illusion 
of seeing you playing with Anna, who, day by day, grows 
prettier. She is already a great lady, who begins to play 
the piano, and promises to hâve a distinguished talent for 
it. She lias also a taste, a decided passion for reading ; 
I can no longer find lier books analogous to lier âge ; we 
hâve exhausted the book-shops of Saint Petersburg. 

You could hardly believe, monsieur, the pleasure 1 hâve 
had in reading u L'Interdiction." I was filled with the 
same sentiment I described to you when reading for the 
first time at Neufchàtel u Le Médecin de campagne." 
Give us as many as possible of such works; society 
expects that service of you. The picture of the judge, 
and that of the nobleman restoring the property which, 



i-joG Honore de Balzac. [1836 

aeeordiug to lus own conviction, lie illegalïy possessed, 
are of incomparable beauty and rare perfection. They 
cannot but strongly influence the morals of tins âge. 
Mon of heart, of talent, of genius, it is your mission to 
bîast vices, to give the greatest briiliancy to virtue, and 
to repair the evil of wliicli the pliilosophy of the last ceu- 
tury cast the germ. 

But I perceive that I am outof ni y natural vocation, and 
becoming diffuse. That is a defect communicated to me 
by the Châtelaine of Wierzchownia and sovereign of 
Paulowska,' who is qui te enchanted to find berself once 
more in lier empire of flowers and verdure, who saintes 
you, and is preparing to write you a long letter of I don't 
know how many pages. 

It eau only be in two years hence that we shall pro- 
pose to ourseives to make a journey for the éducation of 
littie Anna, and l liave a présentaient, monsieur, that 
we shall fmd you sitting in the Chamber, and be présent 
at some of your éloquent speeches. While awaiting the 
realization of that dream, accept the assurance of a true 
and sincère friendship. 

Vexceslas Hanski. 

P. S. I send you the design of the inkstand before 
you receive it; that you may know if you receive the 
rkdit thing. 

To Madame IIaxska. 

Pvris, May 16— June 16, 1836. 

One year ago to-day, T was at the Hôtel de la Poire, 
in Vienna, at one o'clock, ha vin g raade the journey in 
five days, and not having slept for three nights ! At 
two o'clock, after an hour's sleep, I gave myself the fête 
of going to the Walterische Ilaus. To-day, my only 
pleasure will be, in the midst of my per])etual battle, a 
hait of two liours to write you a line, cara contessina. 
But instead of sending you a bouquet of rosy hopes, I 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 337 

hâve only sad things to tell you. Ail that I announced 
to you of good bas failed. Nothing of that which would 
hâve freed me succeeds. 

However, to-day Madame B'chet may perhaps cède 
her rights in the " Etudes de Mœurs" to Werclet; and 
tbis is more important than you know to my tranquillity ; 
for if I bave but one publisber I eau regulate my work, 
I can manage to obtain a montb's rest, and you know 
what I can make of a montb's rest. The " Contes Dro- 
latiques " affair "still drags on. 

During the last few days a great change bas taken 
place in me. Ambition bas disappeared. I no longer 
want to enter public life by the Chamber or by jour- 
nalism. So my efforts will now tend to rid me of the 
" Chronique de Paris." Tbis détermination cornes to 
me from the aspect of the Chamber of Deputies. The 
folly of the orators, the silliness of the debates, the little 
chance there is of triumphing against such misérable 
mediocrity, bave made me renounce the idea of mixing 
myself in itotherwise than as a minister. Therefore, two 
years hence, I shall try to open, with cannon-shot, the 
doors of the Academy ; for academicians can become 
peers, and I will endeavour to make a large enougb for- 
tune to reach the Upper Chamber and enter power 
throngh power itself . 

" Le Lys dans la Vallée" is sapping me. Neither the 
lawsuit nor the book is finished. I bave ten more feuilles, 
one hundred and sixty pages, to do wholly — to write and 
correct. I hope to finish in ten days, though it is almost 
a quarter of the book ; but it is the easiest quarter. Ail 
is now settled, posé. I hâve only to conclude. The 
striking character is decidedly M. de Mortsauf. It was 
very difïîcult to draw that figure ; but it is done now. I 
hâve raised the statue of the Emigration. I hâve col- 
lected in one and the same création ail the features of the 
émigré returned to his estâtes, and perhaps ail the 

22 



338 Honore de Balzac. [1836 

features of the husband ; for married men do, more or less, 
resemble M. de Mortsauf. The bookwill appear, I hope, 
by June 1. But how can I send you yourcopy? I could 
send it by the embassy, bat I must know the address of 
some one who is devoted to you in Saint Petersburg. 

June 16. 

You could never understand wliat my life has been 
between thèse two dates. This letter has lain a month 
on my table without my being able to adda word. I hâve 
received two letters from you and one from M. Hanski 
without being able to answer them, and to-day I must 
lock my door and take a morning to write to you. 1 
hâve so many things to tell you ! So many events hâve 
happened to me I do not know where to begin. Besides, 
it is impossible to tell you ail ; it would fill volumes. 

First, my lawsuit is won and my book is ont. I hâve 
w r orked night and day to finish the book in time to hâve 
it appear the very day the verdict was given. You must 
know that the same sort of attack that was made against 
my crédit during my journey to Vienna, when they de- 
elared me in prison for debt, my enemies hâve again made 
against my character and my intcgrity. Ail the most 
ignoble and basest calumny, ail the mud that could be found 
has been heaped upon me. I had to write a defence, for 
the public, in a single night. You can read it in the 
u Lys," to which it forms au introduction [he suppressed 
it, later] . I won twice over, once before the public, and 
once before the judges, who were indignant. On what 
will they now attack me? x 

Ah! you will never know how burning my life has been 
during this month. I was alone to me et it, harassed by 
the newspaper people demanding money ; harassed by 

1 For a brief account of this lawsuit, which, though won, left cruel 
effects upon his life, see his sister's narrative in the Memoir of this édi- 
tion, pp. 231, 232. —Tb. 



183GJ Letters to Madame Hanska. 339 

my own payments to meet ; harassed by my book, for which 
I h ad day and night to correct proof . No, I wonder I 
lived through it. Life is too heavy ; I hâve no pleasure 
in living. 

You bave grieved me mucb by sending back to me the 
foolish things your aant bas said, — tbat I am married to 
a lady whose name and person I do not know, — while I am 
laden bere with the foolish things of Paris ! Those f rom 
Constantinople are too much ! Keep, I bçg of you your 
credulity for good things. I really do not know what 
Madame Rosalie [Rzewuska] means, or what Hammer 
writes me ; he says you are going to Constantinople, and 
that he has sent your u Livre Mystique" to your aunt, 
who will deliver it to you in person. I am lost in ail this 
muddle of news. 

Though I hâve won my suit and the fcC Lys " is out, my 
affairs do not prosper ; it is one of the victories that kill. 
Another such, and I am dead. The production of books 
does not suffice to extinguish my debts ; I must hâve 
recourse to the stage, and there I shall encounter such 
keen hatreds that they may bar my entrance, or deceive 
the public on the value of the w r orks I produce there. 

I received Monsieur Hanski's letter during those days. 
I bave a better édition of the " Médecin de campagne " 
to send him. But I still do not know how to send it, 
there fore I keep it for him. 

I am so encumbered with delayed business, cares, 
tentatives, that I write you with a sort of inebriated head 
that does not allow of logic; so I hasten to close this 
letter and send it off. You will receive another, acknowl- 
edging the réception of the inkstand, which from the 
drawing seems to me of crushing magnificence for a poor 
devil. 

Boulanger has made a very fine thing of my portrait. 
It will hâve, I think, the honours of the King's corner in 
the coming Exhibition. Don't trouble yourself about 



340 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

the money for tlie copy, which will be an original, for I 
am to sit for yours as I did for tbis one. I will pay liim 
the five lmndred francs, fifty ducats, and when I go to 
Wierzchownia you can, if I am not rich, return the m ; if 
I am rich I shall bave no need of them. But ail artists 
think tliat Boulanger lias doue a fine thing, which, apart 
from its merit as a portrait, is great as a painting. I 
hâve had to give sittings of seven and eight hours — 
already ten of them — through the storms of tins month. 

At the moment when I am writing to you and when I 
need some repose to revive my brain, which drops like a 
jaded horse (for it is impossible not to see that there are 
organs the strength of which is limited) , the manager of 
our newspaper sends me missive after missive to pay hiin 
thirteen thousand more francs, the last of the forty-five 
thousand which I owe on my purchase. Thèse are pin- 
pricks into one's spinal marrow. So ! must leave my letter 
a second time and rush about the city to realize on certain 
shares; and I must at the same time finish the 4t Ecce 
Homo " begun in the u Chronique " two days ago. 

Again my letter is interrupted. Oh ! this time it is too 
much ! Do you know by what? By a légal notice from 
Madame Bèchet, who sommons me to furnish lier within 
twenty-four hours my two volumes in 8vo, with a penalty 
of fifty francs for every day's delay! I mii^t be a great 
criminal and (rod wills that I shall expiate my crimes! 
Never was such torture! This woman lias had ten 
volumes 8vo out of me in two years, and y et she com- 
pïains at not getting twelve! 

You will be some time without news of me, for I shall 
probably flee into the valley of the Indre and there write 
in twenty days the two volumes of that woman and get 
rid of lier. For such an enterprise one must hâve no 
distraction, no thought other than that of the work we 
write. Yes, if I die for it, I must be doue with thèse 
obligations. But if you only knew what an absence of 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 341 

twenty days is to me in my arïairs. It is conflagration. 
I beg of you, do not be worried. If I do not write to 
you, it is that I am either fighting for serious interests, or 
working for something urgent, ardent, that brooks no 
delay. Hère I am, rebeginning a horrible struggle — that 
of money interests and books to write ! Put an end to the 
last of my contracts by satisfying Madame Bêchet, and 
write a fine book! And I hâve twenty days! And it 
shail be done ! The " Héritiers Boirouge " and "Illu- 
sions Perdues " will be written in twenty days ! 

I leave you, as you see, more harassed, more persecuted, 
more oceupied than ever. I hâve the sad presentiment 
that nothing can end well out of ail tins. Human nature 
lias its limits, the strong as well as the weak, and 1 shall 
soon hâve attained my limit. 

Well, adieu ; you, one of the three persons who might 
know me, hâve you many doubts, hâve you left any dark 
corners without penetrating them, because I hâve not 
had the happiness to be long near you? 

June 16, 

My letter was again interrupted. Yesterday, I dined 
with the Abbé de Lamenuais, Berryer, and I don't know 
whom besides. I saw the abbé for the first time ; as for 
Berryer, we are old acquaintances. I was shocked at the 
atrocious face of the Abbé de Lamennais; I tried to 
seize a single feature to whieh one could attaeh one's self, 
but there was noue. 

Berryer takes a trip to Saint Petersburg. I advised 
him strongly to return by land and pass through the 
Ukraine. I told him that I had hopes of going to the 
Ukraine towards September ; but I dare not yield myself 
to any hope at ail. On the 20th I start for Sache [a 
beautiful estate near Tours, belonging to a family friend, 
M. de Margonne]. 

The u Chronique de Paris " is very well posed, politi- 



342 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

cally speaking. But it needs funds. Bcrrycr told me 
liow fruitful the idea of a Right Centre wtis in results. 

Madame de Berny is getting worse and worse. I hope 
to go and see lier on my return from Touraine. But she 
cannot bear the least émotion. 

Adieu ; you will pardon my silence when you kuow ail 
my griefs and pains. I send you many ilowers of mem- 
ory and affectionate homage. Présent my friendîy re- 
membrances to Monsieur Ilanski, to whom L shail wrile 
next, and recall me to the reeollection of those about 
you. 

Sache, June, 1836. 

I reeeive hère your last letter in which 3 T ou speak to 
me of Madame Rosalie and of u Sv'raphita." In relation 
to your aunt, L own that J ain ignorant by wmat law it is 
that persons so well boni and bred can l)elieve such base 
calumnies. I, a gambler ! Can your aunt neither reason, 
combine, uor calculate anything except whist? I, who 
work, even hère, sixteen hours a day, how shouîd I go 
to a gambling-house that takes whole nights? ît is as 
absurd as it is crazy. 

I went for the first time, at thirty-six years of âge, and 
out of curiosity, to Erascati, wmere I found Bernhard. 
One nigiit Bernhard presented me to the Cercle des 
Etrangers, wiiere lie invited me to dinner. I went for the 
third time the day he gave the dinner. Since tlien, 
though I hâve been invited several times, I liave never 
returned there. The last time, J asked Bernhard to 
include me in liis stake for a certain simi, wilich dénotes 
the most ])rofound ignorance of the passion. Jn ail, disr- 
ing my life, I hâve lost thirty ducats at cards. So mueh 
for gambling. That vice will never catch me. I play 
for a stake far dearer and nobler. 

Let your aunt judge in lier way of my works, of winch 
she knows neither the whole design nor tlie bearing ; it is 
lier right to do so. I subinit to ail judgments. That is 



1836] Letters to Madame Jlanska. 343 

one of the' evils through which we hâve to pass. Resigna- 
tion is one of the conditions of my existence. 

Your letter was sad; I felt it was written under the 
influence of your aunt. To comprehend is to equal, said 
Raphaël ; and as you yourself déclare that our poor âge 
does not take the trouble to comprehend, it follows that 
our equals are few. That which I can prétend to for 
myself and my own person is the usage of a faculty given 
to man, — reason. Your aunt makes me a gambler and a 
débauchée ; she lias the proofs, you say. It is now seven 
or eight years that I work, as I hâve told you, sixteen 
hours a day. If I am a gambler and a débauchée, the 
man who lias written thirty volumes in seven years must 
disappear. Both cannot live in the sarae skin; or, if 
they do, it must hâve pleased God to make an extraor- 
dinary créature — which I am not. 

I was beginning to recover life and strength hère, where 
I hâve been for the last five days. On leaving I told 
them with regard to the letters that might corne, " Send 
me none but those from Russia;" and your letter lias 
crushed me more tlian ail the heavy nonsense that jealousy 
and calùmny, lawsuit and money matters hâve cast upon 
me. My sensibility is a proof of friendship; there are 
noue but those we love who can make us suffer. I am 
not angry with your aunt, but I am angry that a person 
as distinguished as you say she is should be accessible to 
such base and absurd calumny. But you yourself, at 
Geneva, when I told you I was free as air, you believed 
me to be married, on the word of one of those fools whose 
trade it is to sell money I laughed. Hère I cannot 
laugh ; I hâve the horrible privilège of being horribly 
calumniated. A few debates like this, and I shall retire 
into Touraine, isolating myself from everything, renounc- 
ing ail, striving to make myself an egoist, desiring neither 
sentiment nor happiness, and living by thought, and for 
thouo-ht. 



344 Honoré de Balzac, [1836 

Your aunt makes me think of the poor Christian who, 
entering the Sistine chapel just as Michel-Angelo h ad 
drawn a nude figure, asked why the popes allowed such 
horrors in Saint Peter's. She jiulges a work of at least 
the same range in literature, without putting herself at a 
distance and awaiting its end. She judges the artist 
witliout knowing hini, and by the sayings of munies. 
Ail that gives me little pain for rnyself , but mueh for lier, 
if you love lier. But that you should let yourself be 
influenced by sueh errors, that rioes grieve me and makes 
me very uneasy, for 1 live by my friendships only. 

Tîiis is enough about that, or you will think me an 
angry author, a personage that does not exist in me. I 
forbade liim evcr to appear. Now let us corne to what 
you say to me of fcC Scraphita." It is strange that no 
one sees that u Sérapîiita " is ail fait /t. Faith allirms, 
and the wdiole is said. The angel bas descended from the 
angelic sphère to corne into the inidst of the quibbles of 
reasoning ; lie opposes reasoning with reasoning. It is 
not for him to formulatc doubt. As to his answer, no 
sacred autlior lias ever more energetically proven God. 
The proof drawn from the infinitude of numbers'has sur- 
prised learned m en. They hâve lowered their heads. It 
was beating tbem on their own ground with their own 
weapons. 

As for the orthodoxy of the book. Swedenborg is 
diametrically opposed to the Court of Rome ; but who 
shall dare pronounce between Saint Peter and Saint 
John? The mystical religion of Saint John is logical ; it 
will ever be that of superior beings. That of Rome wdil 
be that of the crowd, 

As you say, one must try to penetrate the meaning of 
"Séraphita" in order to criticise ie work; brt I never 
counted on a success after 6fc Louis J^ambert" was so 
despised. Thèse are books th:^t I make for myself and 
a few others. When I hâve to write a book for ail the 



1836] Letters to Madame Harnska. 345 

world I know very well what icleas to appeal to, and what 
I must express. "Séraphita" lias nothing of earth; if 
she loved, if she doubted, if she suffered, if she were 
influenceable by anything terrestrial, she would not be tiie 
angel. No one in Paris lias comprehended the vision 
of old David, when he speaks of the efforts of ail the 
elementary substances to recover their créature with the 
spirit she lias conquered ; whereas they can hâve nought but 
lier mortal remains. Séraphita is, as it were, a flovver of 
the globe; ail that lias nourished lier yearns after lier. 
The u Path to God " is a far more lofty religion than that 
of Bossuet ; it is the religion of Saint Teresa, of Fénelon, 
of Swedenborg, of Jacob Boehm, and of M. Saint-Martin. 

But I am repeating myself. Your belief leads to it as 
much as mine. I thought I was making a beautiful and 
grand work, but I may hâve deceived myself. It is what 
it is ; and it is now delivered over to the disputes of this 
world. 

At the moment when I write you hâve doubtless read 
the " Lys dans la Vallée," another Séraphita, who, this 
one, is orthodox. But I will not say anything more about 
them. Literature and its accompaniments bore me. When 
a book is done, I like to forget it ; I do f orget it ; and I 
ne ver return to it except to purge its faults a year or two 
later. You will read the book in its flesli, not its skele- 
ton, and I hope it may give you pleasure. 

I hâve undertaken to do hère the two volumes for 
Madame B^chet, as I must hâve written you before I left 
Paris. Touraine lias given me back some health, but at 
the moment I was working most, with your letter came a 
letter from a friend, who sent me a puff of vexations. 
Such things dishearten one for living. Ilappily, the book 
I am now writing, "Illusions Perdues," is suffîciently in 
that tone. Ail that I can put into it of bitter sadness 
will do marvellously well. It is one of the " novels " 
that will be understood. It is breast-high of ail men. 



846 Honore de Bahdc. [1836 

I am at tins moment in the little bedroom at Sache, 
where I hâve worked so much ! 1 see again the noble 
trees I hâve so often looked at when searching out ideas. 
I am not more advanced in 18ob' than I was in 1829; I 
ovve, and I vvork, always. I still Juive in me the same 
young life, the Jieart still childlike, though you ask me to 
say how many sentiments a man's existence can consume. 
It seems as though, like gamblers, I hâve an iC angé- 
Iique " which multiplies. M y pretended suceesses are 
still another of the agreeable fables fastened on me. I 
don't know which ciïtie it was who said that 1 had known 
very intimately ail my models. But I will ne ver reply to 
thèse exaggerations. Berryer is of my opinion, and I 
shall never forgive mvself for having quitted my silent 
attitude to descend into this arena of mud, as I did in the 
Introduction to " Le Lys dans la Vallée." 

I hâve, within the last few d.iys, been contemplating 
the extent of my work and what still remains to do. It 
is enormous. And, therefore, looking at that immense 
fresco, I hâve a great mind to sell out the u Chronique," 
renounce ail species of political ambition, and make some 
arrangements which would allow me to retire to a "cot- 
tage " in Tou raine and tliere accomplish peaceabÎ3 T , with- 
out anxieties, a work which will help me to pass my life, 
if not happily, at least tranquiliy. That my life should 
l)e lioppil, many other circumstances are needed. 

What! Anna lias been ill? Do not nurse lier too 
much; excess of care, a great ph^ysician told me, is one 
of the evils that threaten t!ie children of the rich. It is a 
way of bringiiig the influence of evils to bear upon tiiem. 
But you know much aire ad y on this head. What I say is 
not one of those commonplaces addressed to mothers ; it 
is the ery of a deep conviction. My sister adored a little 
girl whom she îost because she gave ear to everything for 
lier. lier little Valentine is, to-day, on the contrary, left 
to herself and she is magnificent. 



1836] Letters to Madame Jfanska. 347 

My brother still gives us much anxiety. My mother is 
consumed with grief. But my brother-in-law is succeed- 
ing better. The latéral canal of the Loire lias been voted 
by both Chambers. Nothing is needed now but to find 
the capital to build it. Also lie lias lately obtained the 
building of a bridge iu Paris, which is an excellent affair. 
80 the skies are brightening, at least for him. But lie 
has needed, like myself, much persévérance and courage. 

In re-reading your letter, I think you make me ont 
rathcr greater than I am, and you demand more of me 
than I can giye. The désire to do well has brought me 
to certain meaus to produce that resuit, but the exercise 
of intellectual faculties does not bring with it real 
grandeur; one remains, humanly speaking, what one is : 
a poor being very impressible, whom God had made for 
happiness, and whom circumstances hâve condemned to 
the most wearying toil in the w r orld. 

At this moment I must leave you to complète my w r Ork ; 
in five or six days, when I am delivered of thèse two 
volumes,, wiiich will terminate the hardest of the obliga- 
tions I hâve ever contracted, I will w T rite you at length, 
with a heart more joyful ; for just now things are causing 
me more pain than pleasure. My soûl and spirit are too 
strained by w r ork. I am as nervous as a fashionable 
woman, but I shall, perhaps, recover a little gaiety when 
I feel myself the lighter by two volumes. Touraine is 
very beautiful just now. The weather is extremely warm, 
which has brought the vineyards into bloom. Ah! my 
God, wdien shall I hâve a little place, a little château, a 
little park, a fine library! and shall I ever inhabit it with- 
out troubles, lodging within it the love of my life? 

The farther 1 go, the more thèse golden w T ishes take the 
tint of dreams; and yet to renounce the m would be death 
to me. For ten y cars past I live by hope only. 

Well, adieu ; a thousand kindly things to M. Hanski. 
T place on Anna's forehead a kiss, full of goocl wishes, 



348 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

and I beg y ou to find hère those pretty flowers of the soûl, 
those caressiug thoughts, which y ou awaken and which 
belong to you, sad or not; for mine is one of those 
uiiiilterable friendships which resemble the sky ; clouds 
may pass beneath it, the atmosphère may be more or less 
ardent, but above them the heavens are ever blue. When 
you are sad, ail you need do is to go up a little higher. 

I hâve tliought of you miich during thèse last days, not 
receiving any letters; and now I regret having begun tins 
letter with harshness towards a person you love and who 
loves you, though from lier portrait I should judge lier 
vei-y cold. 

Adieu again; I confide ail I think to this little paper, 
which, unfortiinately, will be very discreet. You will talk 
to me about the "Lys/ 1 and say a little more thau you 
bave said tins time? 

Paris, August 22, 18.36. 
This date, <wm, is not without significance. Ail will 
be explained to you by three events which will leave 
their mark within my soûl and on the history of my 
misfortunes. 

Madame de Berny is dead. I can say no more on tliat 
point. ]\Iy sorrow is not of a day ; it will renct upon my 
whole life. For a year I h ad not seen lier, nor did I see 
lier in lier last moments. This was why : at the moment 
when I ought to hâve been at Nemours 1 was obliged to 
wind up the affairs of the u Chronique" in Paris — in the 
midst of its greatest success. We could not support 
compétition with daily paper s at forty francs a year, while 
we cost sixty-four and appeared semi-weekîy. To keep 
on, we needed fifty thousand francs, and no one could or 
would advance a farthing in the présent circumstanees of 
the press. I went to see ail the shareholclers and guar- 
anteed to them tlie intégral payment of what they had put 
in ; so tliat at the moment when I received the heaviest 
blow my heart lias ever known — for never, since the 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 349 

death of my grandmother, bave I sounded so deeply the 
selfish gulf of eternal séparation — at that moment I was 
meeting a loss of forty thousand francs. It was too much. 
Immediately after, Madame Bechet, married, as I told you, 
to a certain Jacquillart, was constrained by him to sue me 
for my volumes; I was thus under the weight of a new 
suit which is ail clear loss to me, for by the deed itself I 
am condemned to pay fifty francs for every day's delay, 
and I am now two months behind, since the time I received 
the summons. 

The last letter of the angel who has now escaped the 
miseries of life, and who in lier last days was not spared 
them, — for in two years lier two flnest children, her best 
loved son, twenty-three years old, he who was ail lierself, 
and lier most beautiful daughter of nineteen, are both 
dead ; her youngest daughter of seventeen, mad; and 
her remaining son the cause of her greatest grief, — well, 
her last letter came in the midst of those worries of mine; 
and she, who was always so lovingly severe to me, ac- 
knowledged that the "Lys " was one of the finest books in 
the French language ; she decked herself at last with the 
crown which, fifteen years earlier, I h ad promised her, 
and, always coquettish, she imperiously forbade me to 
corne and see her, because she would not hâve me near her 
unless she were beautiful and well. The letter deceived 
me. I waited until I had, by dint of efforts, conférences, 
and much ability, made Werdet buy the "Etudes de 
Mœurs " from Madame Bechet for thirty thousand francs 
before I started for Nemours, and then, suddenly, the 
fatal news came, and almost killecl me. 

I do not speak to you hère in détail of thèse forty and 
some days. I hâve given you the chief features, the out- 
line. Some day I will tell you more. I will tell you how 
in this intelligent Paris we succumbed; how in order to 
settle the affair of the " Rtudes de Mœurs" and the last 
lawsuit by which I can ever be threatened, the dévotion 



350 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

of my tailor and the savings of a poor workingman were 
needed, — two uien who bad more faitli in me than ail the 
pompons admiration of men in high places. 

When ail was over, — struck clown in the clearest illu- 
sions of my heart, ruined in money, undergoing a second 
Beresina such as befell me in 1828, and wearied out, — 
Werdet gave me twenty days' freedom, and we arranged 
for my payments till August 20. Rothschild gave me a 
letter of crédit for Italy, and I seized a pretext of going 
to Milan to do a service to a m an with whom I had a box 
at the opéra. M. Visconti [Count Gnidoboni-Visconti]. 
In twenty days I went there by the Mont Cenis, returning 
over the vSimplon, having for companion a friend of Ma- 
dame Carraud and Jules Sandeau [Madame Caroline Mar- 
bouty, to whom he dedicated " La Grenadière "]. You 
will divine that I lodged in y oui* hôtel Piazza Castello, 
and that in Geneva 1 stayed at the Arc with the Biol- 
leys, and went to see Pro-l'Eveque and the liaison 
Mirabaud. 

Alas! It is not forbiddcn to those who snffer to go and 
breathe a perfumed air. You alone and your memories 
could refresh a heart in mourning. I went over the road 
to Coppet and to Piodati. Cura, the Porte de Rive is 
enlarged, just as, suddenly, the affection I bear you is 
enlarged by ail that I hâve lost. One no longer waits to 
enter Geneva ; we can now corne and go at any hour of 
the night. I stayed only one day in (icneva, and saw no 
one but de Candolle, who came near dying, but is better. 

Hère I am, returned, bearing a wound the scar of which 
will be ever visible, but which you alone hâve soothed 
unconsciously. 

You must hâve had much uneasiness in conséquence of 
my silence. Forgive me, dear. Tt was impossible foi 
me to write, or think. I could only let myself be drawn 
along in a carriage, led by an inoffensive hand, guided 
Uke a dying man. INly mind itself was crushed ; for the 



1836] Letters to Madame HansJca. 351 

failure of the "Chronique" came upon me at Sache, at 
M. de Margonne's, where I was, by a wise impulse, 
plungecl in work to rid myself of that odious Bêchet (it 
was that whicli kept me from going to Nemours !) ; in eight 
days I h ad invented, composed, 4t Les Illusions Perdues," 
and I had written a ïhiiid of it ! Think what such work 
was. Ail my f aculties were strained ; I wrote fif teen 
hours a day ; I got up with the sun and wrote till the elin- 
ner-hour without taking anything but coffee. 

One day, after dinner, which I naturalîy made substan- 
tial, the letters arrivée!, anel I read that which announceel 
to me the crisis of the " Chronique." I went out with 
M. anel Mme. ele Margonne into the park, and fell, struck 
down by a rush of blood to the heacl, at the foot of a tree. 
I coule! not write a worel, I saw ail my prospects ruined. 
I. saie! to myself that nothing remaineel for me but to go 
anel hide myself at Wierzchownia, and» amass enough 
work and money to corne back some day auel pay ail I 
owed. In short, I was stunnecl. Courage came back to 
me. I flew to Paris ; I struggled ; then the rest came un- 
expecteclly, blow on blow. I was at Sache after the 
4 Lys " appearecl and my suit was won. Touraine hael 
cureel my fatigue then anel restcrecl my brain. I was 
enablecl there to make a last effort. 

The journey I hâve just made only die! me goocl at 
Geneva. In seeing that lake, finding myself again in 
places where I won a frienclship that is so sweet to me, I 
was wrapped in a delightful atmosphère which shed a 
balm upon the bleecling wouncls. You will fine! ail in 
that sentence. 

I wished to go to Neufchâtel ; but the twenty days 
were too short. That is what prevented me from going 
to you, — the little time and the little money ; for I am 
still in debt. Ail illness costs. 

Hère I am returned, in face of my obligations. To be 
able to make the journey, I obtaineel the price of the 



352 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

"Mémoires d'une jeune Mariie ; " so that I hâve four 
volumes 8vo to do, ou whicli I shall not receiye another 
sou. I bave, besides, enornious engagements ; and no 
resources to sustain them. I must hâve recourse to 
crédit; that means paying enormous interest. Wliat a 
position! Oh! cam, what a life! Apathy sav^ed me. If 
I had felt it ail f ully, I should liave iiung myself into some 
torrent on the Simplon. 

Yes, ail the papers bave been bostile to tbe "Lys;" 
tbey bave ail cried shame, tliey bave spit upon it. Nette- 
ment tells me tbat tbe u Gazette de France" attacked it 
u because I do not go to mass." Tbe " Quotidienne " 
from a private vengeance of tbe editor ; in sbort ail, for 
some reason or otber. Instead of selling two tbousand, 
as I boped, for Werdet, vve are only as far as thirteen 
bundred. Tbus ail material interests are endangered. 
Tbere are some ignorant persons who cannot understand 
tbe beauty of Madame de Mortsauf s deatb ; tbey do not 
see tbe struggle of matter witb mind, wilicli is tbe founda- 
tion of Cbristianity. Tbey see only imprécations of tbe 
disappointed rlesb, of tbe wounded pbysical nature ; tbey 
will not do justice to tlie sul)lime placidity of tbe soûl 
when tbe countess confesses and (lies a saint. 

When I a m tlius burt I spring toward y ou, — toward 
you alone hotv ; toward y ou who comprebend me, and 
who judge witli enougb critical mind to give value to 
your praises. Witb what bappiness we feel ourselves 
appreciated, judged, by some one w r ho loves us. A 
word, an observation from the celestial créature of 
wbom Madame de Mortsauf is a pale représentation 
macle more impression upon me than tbe wbole public, 
for sbe was true ; slie wanted only my good and my per- 
fection. I make you her heir, you who bave ail lier 
noble qualifies; you who could bave written that letter 
of Madame de Mortsauf, whicb is but tbe imperfect 
breatb of her constant inspirations, you wbo could, at 
least, complète it» 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 353 

I must plunge into stupefying work ; I can live only in 
that way, for where are my hopes ? They are very dis- 
tant. Happiness and materiai tranquillity are ver}; far 
from me. I shall go conscientiously before me, striving 
to be sufïicient for each day. 

Oiily, cara, do not aggravate my griefs by dishonour- 
ing doubts; belieye that, to a man so heavily burdened 
otherwise, calumny is a light thing, and that now I must 
let it ail be said against me witliont distressing myself. 
In your last letters, you know, you hâve believed things 
that are irreconcilable with what you know of me. I 
cannot explain to myself your tendeucy to believe absurd 
calumnies. I still remember your credulity in Geneva 
when you thought me married. 

I hope to go and see you next spring, wherever you 
are. Perhaps some fortunate circumstances may happen. 
My brother-in-law's affairs are doing pretty well. lie 
has the building of a bridge in Paris, and of a short 
railway, besides which the law on the latéral canal of the 
Lower Loire is promulgated. It is only necessary to 
find the money for it. At an} r rate it is an acquired 
right, and nothing can now destroy it. In that direction 
I may be able to arrange some good matter of business. 
The only thing which at this moment is serions is my 
double condition, — that of a man wounded to the heart, 
who has not yet recovered his vitality, and of a man 
garroted by materiai interests in jeopardy. 

In the midst of thèse storms, I bave received M. 
Hanski's inkstand, which has the misfortune of being far 
too magnificent for a man condemned to poverty, It is 
of a style that demands a mansion, horses, majordomos. 
Express to him, I beg of you, my admiring thanks for this 
beautiful thing, which I can only use in one way, namely : 
by placing it among my precious things, to remind me of 
our good days in Vienna, Geneva, and Neufoliatel when, 
seeking for ideas, my eyes may light upon it. 

^3 



354 Honoré de Balzac, [1836 

I do not think I commit, sacrilège in sealing this letter 
to y ou with the seal 1 used to Madame de Berny. I 
bave mislaid the key of the drawer where I keep my 
little articles. I nui de a vow always to wear this ring on 
my fmger. 

I received a letter frorn you at Sache, of later date than 
a letter I hâve since received in Paris. Perhaps this will 
make some confusion in what 1 wrote to you about 
" Seraphita " in reply to what you said in the letter 
received at Sache. Consider that I said nothing, if any- 
thing that I did say pained you. I received your number 
ir> yesterday. 

No one knows what lias become of Mitgislas . . . Ile 
lias left Paris wlthout paying his debts, having sold 
everything, and allowing ali sorts of suspicions to hover 
over him. But I do not eoneern myself with such things ; 
1 neitîier listen nor repeat. 

You are right ; I hâve no more serviecable friends than 
my cnemies. The violence and absurdifcy of the attacks 
inade upon me hâve revolted ail honest men. Did I tell 
you that M. de Belleyme came to sce me after the trial? 
The Court blamed the lawyer on the other side, Chaix 
d'Estanges. 

It seems to me that you hâve divined my situation in 
what you say of sorrow, and also in what you say of 
those who, like Robert Bruce, return ever to the light in 
spite of their defeats. 

Adieu ! it bas doue me good to write this long letter. 
But time does not belong to me wholly. The most 
horrible wound of my life is to be ne ver able to give 
myself up to my affections, j oyons or sad. It is always 
work, uiuler pain of perishing, and I bave no right to 
perish. My death would injure too many. I owe money 
to devoted friends who give me of their blood. There- 
fore I am much misjudged. 

Adieu ; to you the most beautiful and richest flowers 



1836] Letters to Madame Sansha. 355 

of my soûl ancl memory. I did not know ail that the 
Pré-FÉvêque was to me, and the Mil from which we 
see the lake and the bridge ; I had to see it ail again, 
alone and unhappy, to know the value of those 
memories. 

Ciiaillot, October 1, 1836. 

Friendship ought to be an infallible consolation in the 
great misf ortunes of life. Why should it aggravate them ? 
I ask myself sadly that question on reading to-night your 
last letter. In the first place, your saclness reacts strongly 
upon me ; then it betrays such wounding sentiments. 
There were phrases in it that pierced my heart. Doubt- 
less you did not know what profound sorrow was in my 
soûl, nor what sombre courage accompanies this, my 
second great disaster, undergone in middle life. When 
I was YvTecked the first time, in 1828, I was only twenty- 
nine years old and I had an angel at my side. To-day I 
am at an âge when a man no longer inspires the lovable 
sentiment of a protection which lias nothing w^ounding, 
because it is of the essence of youth to receive it, and it 
seems natural that youth be aided. But to a man who is 
nearer to forty than to thirty, protection must needs be 
wanting; it would be an insuit. A weak man, without 
resources at that âge, is judged in ail lands. 

Fallen from ail my hopes, having abdicated wholly, 
forced to take refuge hère in Jules Sandeau's former 
garret at Chaillot on September 80, the day when, for 
the second time in my life, I failed to honour my signa- 
ture, and when to the lamentations of integrity, which 
weeps within me, was added the sensé of solitude, — for 
hère, this time, I am alone, — I thought, soothingly, that 
at least I lived complète in certain chosen hearts. I 
thought of you. Your letter, so sad, so discouraged, came. 
With what avidity I took it, with what tears I locked it 
up before taking the little sleep I allow myself ! But I 
cling to your last words as to the last branch of a tree 



356 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

when the current is bearing us away. Letters are endowed 
with a fatal power. They possess a force which is either 
beneûcent or fatal, according to tlie sensations in the midst 
of which they corne to us. I would that, between two 
friends very sure of theinselves, signs were agreed upon 
by which from the aspect of a letter each might know if 
it was one of expansive gaiety or plaintive moaning. We 
could then choose the moment for reading it. 

1 had but nineteen days bcfore me; 1 could not go to 
the Ukiaine and return. Talma's letter was given to me 
in Gérard's salon. AVhat trilles y ou lay hold of ! Per- 
haps you will not cvcn remember what you hâve written 
to me on this subject when you receive this letter. Am I 
to send you that of Mademoiselle Mars? Will you not 
think that she has been paid? If you ever go to 
Italy and pass through Turin, I wish you may see Madame 
la Marquise de Saint-Thomas. You would know then 
what the autographs of Silvio Pellico and Nota cost. 

You told me that your sister Caroline was the most 
dangerous of women ; and in your letter she is an angel, 
and you tell me she is about to do what I call signal folly; 
for I hâve not forgotten what you wrote to me about the 
colonel. She will be very uuhappy. 

I am cast down, but not without courage ; what Bou- 
langer has painted, and what I am pleased with, is the 
persistence à la, Coligny, à la Peter the Great, which is 
the basis of my character, — the intrepid faith in the 
future. 

Must I renounce the Ttalian Opéra, the only pleasure 
that I hâve in Paris, because 1 hâve no other seat than in 
a box where there is also a eharming and gracions woman 
jCountess Guidoboni-Viseonti] ? I was in a box among 
men who were an in jury to me, and brought me into 
disrepute. J had to go elsewhere, and, in ail conscience, 
L was not willing for Olyinpe's box. But let us drop the 
subject. 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 357 

The feeling of abandomnent and of tlie solitude in 
which I am stings me. There is nothing selfish in me; 
but I need to tell my thoughts, my efforts, my feelings to 
a being who is not myself ; otherwise I hâve no strength. 
I should wish for no crown if there were no feet at which 
to lay that which men may put upon my head. What a 
long and sad farewell I hâve said to my lost years, en- 
gulfed beyond return ! tliey gave me neither complète 
happiness nor complète misery ; they kept me living, 
frozen on one side, scorched on the other ! To be no 
longer held to life by aught but the sentiment of duty ! 

I entered the garret where I am with the conviction 
that I should die exhausted with my w T ork. I thought 
that I should bear it better than I do. It is now a month 
that I hâve risen at midnight and gone to bed at six ; I 
hâve compelled myself to the least amount of food that 
will keep me alive, so as not to drive the fatigue of di- 
gestion to the brain. Well, not only do 1 feel weaknesses 
that I canuot describe, but so much life communicated to 
the brain has brought strange troubles. Sometimes I 
lose the sensé of verticality, which is in the cerebellum. 
Even in bed my head seems to fall to right or left, and 
when I rise I am impelled by an enormous weight that is 
in my head. I understand how Pascal's absolute conti- 
nence and lus immense labour led him to see an abyss 
around him, so that lie could not do without two chairs, 
one on each side of him. 

I hâve not abandoned the rue Cassini without pain. 
To-day, I do not know if I shall save some parts of my 
furniture to which I am attached, or hâve my library. 
I hâve made, in advance, every sacrifice of lesser pleas- 
ures and memories that I may keep the littie joy of know- 
ing that thèse things are still mine. They would be 
trifles indeed to quench the thirst of creditors, but they 
would slake mine du ring my mardi across the désert, 
through the sands. Two years ^f toil would pay my debt 



358 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

in f iill ; but it is impossible that I sliould not succuml) 
under two years of siicli a lifc. Besides which, piracy is 
killing us. The farther we go, the less m y books sell. 
Hâve the newspapers influeneed the saie of the " Lys " ? 
I do not know ; but what 1 do know is that ont of two 
thousand copies Werdet sold only twelve hundred, while 
Belgium lias sold three thousand ! I hâve the certainty, 
from that faet, that my works do not find purchasers iu 
France. Consequently, the success of sales that niight 
savc me is still distant. 

I am hère with Auguste, whom I hâve kept. Can I 
still keep him? As yet I know not. 

To let you know how far my courage goes, I must tell 
you that "Le Secret des Buggieri" was written in a 
single night. Tliink of that when you read it. " La 
Vieille Fille" was written in three nights. "La Ferle 
brisée," which ends at last the "Enfant Maudit," was 
written in a single night. It is my Brienne, my Cham- 
paubert, my Montmirail, my campaign of France ! But 
it was the same with "La Messe de l'Athée" and 
"Facino Cane." I wrote the first Wïiy fp aille t s of the 
"Illusions Perdues" in three days at Sache. 

What kills me is the corrections. The iirst part of 
" L'Enfant Maudit" cost me more thau niany volumes. I 
wanted to brino; that part up to the levé! of " La Perle 
brisée " and make them a sort of little poem of mclan- 
choly in which there would be nothing to gainsay. That 
took me a dozen nights. And now, at the moment of 
writing to you, I hâve before me the accumulated p roofs 
of four différent works winch ought to appear in Octo))er. 
I must be equal to ail that. I hâve promised Werdet to 
bring out his third Part of the " Etudes Philosophiques " 
tliis month, and also the third dizain, and to give him for 
November 15 "Illusions Perdues." That makes flve 
volumes 12mo, and three volumes 8vo. One must sur- 
pass one's self, inasmuch as ])urchasers are indiffèrent; 



1836] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 359 

ancl surpass one's self in the midst of protested notes, 
griefs, cruel embarrassments, and solitude ! 

This is the last plaint that I shall east into your heart. 
In my confidences there bas been somethmg seltîsh which 
I must put an end to. When you are sacl I will not 
aggravate your sadness, for your sadness aggravâtes mine. 
I know that the Christian martyrs smiled. If Guatimozin 
had been a Christian he would hâve gently consoled his 
minister, and not hâve said to him, u And I — am I on a 
bed of roses? " A fine say in g for a savage, but Christ 
lias made us more courteous, if not better. 

I see with pain that you read the mystics. Believe me, 
such reading is fatal to soûls constituted like yours. It is 
poison ; it is an intoxicating narcotic. Such books hâve an 
evil influence. There is madness in virtue as there is mad- 
ness in dissipation. I would not deter you if you were 
neither wife, nor mother, nor friencl, nor relation, because 
then you could go into a convent if it pleased you, though 
yourdeath would there corne quickly. But, in your situa- 
tion, such reading is bad. The rights of friendship are 
too weak for my voice to be listened to. I address you, 
on this subject, a humble prayer. Do not read anything 
of that kind. I hâve been there; I hâve expérience of it. 

I hâve taken ail précautions that your wishes shall be 
f ulfilled relating to the sternest of your requests, but under 
circumstances which your intelligence will no doubt lead 
you to foresee. I am not Byrou ; but I know this : Bor- 
get is not Thomas Moore ; he has the blind fidelity of a 
dog, as your faithful moujik has also. 

Send me word exactly the way by which I must 
despatch Boulanger's picture — about which no one will 
say to you whatyou heard about that very wretched thing 
of Grosclaude's ; — it is not enough to say to Rothschild, 
"For Kussia." To what house am I to address it? 
Grosclaude is an artist, but nothing eminent. He sees 
form, but he goes no farther; he has no style, he is com- 



oGO Honoré de Balzar. [1836 

mon, without élévation. His Buveurs are good paint- 
ing, but the nature is low. If lie were in Paris lie would 
re-form himself. But in Geneva lie will stay what lie is. 
Your portrait by liim is an infamous daub. Daftinger, in 
Yienna, caught your likeness much better; but I do not 
like miniature very much, uniess it is that of Madame de 
Mirbel. ï saw sume of liers in the last Exhibition, and I 
perceived then that Dadinger was mucli ))eneath her. We 
must still, if Ave want to hâve good portraits, spring baek 
to the prineiples of ivubens, Yelasquez, Van Dyck, and 
Titian. 

I n m nstonishcd that you hâve not yet reeeived AVer- 
dct's a Lys; " the true ** Lys" in whieh there is a por- 
trait. They say that I hâve painted Madame Visconti ! 
Such are the judgments to whieh we are exposed ! You 
know that I had the proofs in Yienna, and that portrait 
was written at Sache, and corrected at La Boutonnière 
before ï ever saw Madame Visconti. I hâve reeeived five 
formai coin plaint* fi'om persons about me, who say that 1 
hâve unveiled their private lives. I hâve very curions 
letters on tîiis subjeet. It appears that there are as many 
îMonsieurs de Mortsauf as there are angels atCloehegourde; 
angels rain down upon me, but tlieu are not white. 

A thousand little cavillings of this kind make me take 
to solitude with k\ss regret. Yesterday, Seplcmber lM), 
my si* ter, for lier birthday, gave herself the little pleasure 
of coining to see me, for we see each other very little. 
lier husband's affairs move slowly, and her life also ; she 
is running to wasfc in the shade; her fine powers ex- 
haust themselves in a hidden strugu'le without crédit. 
AVhat a diamond in the mudî The finest diamond that 
J kuow in France. For her fête we exchanged oui* 
tears ! And, poor little thing ! she heid her watch in her 
hand; she îiad but twenty minutes. lier husband is 
jealous of me. For coming to see a brother for a pleasure 
trip ! 



1836] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 361 

Adieu, the clay is dawning, my candies pale. For 
tbree hours I hâve been writing to you, line ai'ter Une, 
hoping that in each you would hear the cry of a true 
friendship, far above ail petty and transitory irritations, 
infinité as heaven, and incapable of thinking it can ever 
change, because ail other sensations are below it. Of what 
good would intellect be if not to place a noble thing on a 
rock above us, where nothing material can touch it? 

But this would lead me too far. The proofs are wait- 
ing, and I must piunge into the Augean stable of my 
style, and sweep ont its faults. My life oiïers nothing 
now but the monotony of work, wiiich the work itself 
varies. I ara like the old Austrian colonel wdio talked 
about his gray horse and his black horse to Marie Antoi- 
nette ; sometimes I ara on one, sometimes on the other; 
six hours on the " Ruggieri," six hours on " L'Enfant 
Maudit," six hours on u La Vieille Fille." From tirae to 
time I rise, I contemplate that océan of houses which my 
window overlooks, from the Ecole Militaire to the Barrière 
du Trône, from the Panthéon to the Etoile ; and then, 
having inhaled the air, I go back to my work. My apart- 
ment on the second floor is not yet vacant; I play ai 
garret; I like it, like the duchesses who eat brown bread by 
chance. There is not in ail Paris a prettier garret. It 
is white and coquettish as a grisette of sixteen. I sliall 
make a bedroora of it to supplément mine in case of î 11— 
ness ; for below I sleep in the passage, in a bed two f eet 
wide wdiieh leaves only room to pass. The doctors say it 
is not unhealthy ; but I ara afraid it is. I need much 
air; I consume it enormously. My npartment costs me 
seven hundred francs. I sliall bc no longer in the Na- 
tional Guard ; but I ara still pursued by the police and 
the état-major for eight days in prison. Not going ont of 
the house, they cannot catch me. My apartment is taken 
under another name than mine [that of his doctor], and I 
ara living ostensibly in a furnished hôtel. 



362 Honoré de Balzac, [1836 

"Well, I wish I could send you some of m y courage. 
Find it hère with my teiider respects. 

Ciiaillot, October 22, 1836. 

I had great need of the letter I hâve just received from 
you, to efface the grief your last had caused me ; for, 1 
may now tell you, it pained me by the uncertainty it 
revealed, and perhaps that pain may hâve acted on my 
answer, thougli I am tolerably stoic. But when an 
affection as devoted, as pure of ail storms, as that of 
Madame de Berny lias perished, and around us little else 
remains, if then, amid dreadful misfortunes, the brandi 
on which oui* beliefs are hanging breaks also, the skies 
are very sombre, and the fall to earth is heavy. 

That letter came, full of doubts and reproaches wrapped 
in your pretty phrases, while I was in my garret, which I 
shall not quit until I owe nothing; and was it not a 
cruelly facetious tliing to be told that one is dissipated in 
one's fortieth year, and when the doctors cannot explain 
to themselves how it is that I bear such work? They see 
my monkish life ; they will not believe in it. They are 
like } T ou. 

A dreadful misfortune h as corne to crowm my misery. 
Werdet, w r ho never had a sou, is about to fail, and drags 
me into the gulf ; for, to sustain him, I had the weakness 
to sign bills of exchange, the value of w r hich I never 
received, and notes to the amount of thirteen thousand 
francs wdiich I must honour. I hâve already taken 
précautions to w r eather tins storm. 

To-morrow I shall hâve moved ail from the rue Cassini, 
which I hâve left never to return. My apartment hère 
is taken in the name of a third person. I did this to 
évade the National G uard ; also my furniture is secured 
from attachment, for I hâve to face the immédiate pay- 
ment of fifty thousand francs without the resource of my 
own crédit, or that of a publisher. 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 363 

Under thèse circumstances, which hâve made this month 
of October a true Beresina for me, I longed to go and ask 
you for an asylum and bread for two years, during which 
time I could" earn, by working, the hundred thousand 
francs I need. Bat my life woald hâve been too stained 
by that flight, although my most sensitive and upright 
friends advised it. I hâve been greater than my misfor- 
tune. In fifteen days' time I hâve sold fifty columns to 
the "Chronique de Paris" for a thousand francs; one 
hundred and twenty columns to the " Presse " for eight 
thousand; twenty columns to'a " Revue Musicale" for 
one thousand; an article to the " Dictionnaire de la 
Conversation" for a thousand. That makes eleven 
thousand francs in fifteen days. I hâve worked thirty 
nights without going to bed. I hâve written " La Perle 
brisée " (for the " Chronique ") " La Vieille Fille " (for the 
" Presse "). I hâve done the " Secret des Ruggieri " for 
Werdet. I hâve sold for two thousand francs my last 
dizain (that makes thirteen thousand). And now I am 
doing "La Torpille" for the "Chronique," aucl "La 
Femme Supérieure," and " Les Souffrances d'un Inven- 
teur " for the " Presse." At the same time I am in pro- 
cess of selling the reprinting [in book form] of "La 
Torpille," "La Femme Supérieure," " Le Grand homme 
de Province à Paris," and " Les Héritiers Boirouge," bot h 
begun ; that will give me in ail thirty-one thousand francs. 
Then, having no longer that rotten plank Werdet to rest 
on, I shall contract with a rich and solid firm for the last 
fourteen volumes of the "Études de Mœurs," which 
ought to amount to fifty-six thousand francs for author's 
rights, on which I want thirty thousand at once. If that 
succeeds I shall hâve sixty-one thousand francs, which will 
save me. Not only shall I then owe nothing, but I shall 
hâve some money for myself. But I must work day and 
night for six months, and after that at least ten hours a 
day for two years. 



364 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

Rossini said to me yesterday : — 

44 AY lien I did that myself, I was dead at the eud of 
fifteen days, and then I took fifteeii to rest." 

I said to him, Ck i hâve only a coilin in prospect for 
my rest; but work is a fine siiroud." 

You can comprehend how, in the midst of thèse multi- 
plied errands, thèse torrents of proofs, of manuseripts to 
write, of tins savage struggle, it is dreadful to receive 
stones from lie aven instead of rays of light. Not only 
hâve 1 neither pieasure nor lime, but I hâve not been able 
since my return to take a bath or go to the Opéra, two 
things (bath and Opéra) which are more essential to me 
than bread. Everythisig is going to ruin within me to the 
profit of my brain. It makes one shudder. 

For having three times in my life — I, feeble — 
interested myself in unfortunate men, and taken them en 
croupe upon my horse or in m}^ bout, — the printer, Jules 
Sandeau, and Werdet, — tarée times hâve they broken the 
tiller, sunk the boat, and iiung me into the water naked. 
It is over. I will never interest myself again in feeble 
men. I hâve too many obligations, which command me 
to employ the cold logic of a banker's strong-box. I shut 
myself up, in my work and my garret. I grow more 
solitary than ever. 

Sec liow the whole of society combines to isolate 
superiorities, how it drives them to the heights ! Affec- 
tions which ought to be exelusiveîy kind and tender to us, 
never judge us, never make a mountain ont of nothing, 
and a nothing of a mountain, thèse very affections torture 
us by fantastic exactions ; they stab us with pin-pricks 
about silly things ; they want faitli for thcmselves and hâve 
noue for us; they will not put info their sentiments that 
grandeur which séparâtes them from others. They do 
not abstract their sentiments, ns we do, from earthly soil- 
ing. The protections that we give to tlte weak are fresli 
meaus by which we liing ourselves more rapidly into 



1836] Lettcrs to Madame Bandca. 365 

tbe inextricable difficulties of material life. Indiffèrent 
people adopt calumnies which enemies forge and envions 
rnen repeat. No one succours us. The masses do not 
understand us ; superior persons bave no time to read us 
and défend us. Famé illumines the grave only ; posterity 
gives us no income, and I am tempted to cry out, like that 
English country gentleman from his place in pariiament : 
" I hear much talk of posterity ; I would like to know 
what that power has so far doue for England." 

So you see, cara, that short of miracles, poor writers 
are condemned to misfortunes under ail forms ; therefore, 
I entreat you, do not keep from me an y of your griefs, or 
your ideas, or anything regarding yourself, but be indul- 
gent and kind to me. Think always that what I do has a 
reason and an object, that my actions are necessary. 
There is, for two soûls that are a little al)ove others, 
something mortifying in repeating to you for the tenth 
time not to believe in calumny. AVhen you said to me, 
three letters ago, that I gambled, it was just as true as my 
marriage was at Geneva. 

Cava, the life that I lead cannot endure that the sweet 
things of friendship should be converted into constant 
explanations ; the life of the soûl is not that. 

You ask me again who is Charles de Bernard. I hâve 
already told you; did you not get my letter? He is a 
gentleman of Besançon who, on my passage through that 
town when I went to Neufchâtel, received me like an 
honour, and in whom I found talent. As soon as I 
owned the " Chronique de Paris" I sent for him ; I ad- 
vised him, directed him with patemal affection, telliug 
him that he was a man to gallop straightif given a horse ; 
and it was true. I conceived of making a newspaper 
only by the help of superior men. I had already picked 
out Planche, Bernard, Théophile Gautier. I should hâve 
unearthed others. But that is ail over now. 

A Polish colonel, who returns to Saint-Petersburg by 



oG(> Honore, de Balzac, [is36 

way of AVarsaw, a Monsieur Frankowski, will take to you 
the cassolette attachcd to ray watch-eiiain. The chain, 
you know, was so délicate that the little links were con- 
tinuallv breaking. As I told you l)efore, it will be safer 
fastened to a ring; you will not then destroy it when 
playing with it. Leeointe lias tried to do it well. You 
gave me, in Yienna, the right to roc ail myself to your 
memory l>y sucli little dainty things. Lot Paris sond you, 
now and then, a few ilowers of lier industry. Ah ! cara* 
if I h ad not among so many waking nights the thought 
that one of thom is spent in sending to you a little thing the 
gold of whicli, as AValter Seott's man says in the L ' Chron- 
iclos of the Canongate," is earned grain by grain, to 
testify to you my gratitude, my toil would be too heavy. 

J\I. Frankowski would hâve taken charge of my manu- 
scripts and sont thom to you with Polish fidelity, but lie 
foared the dilïicuities of the custom-liouse. You hâve 
hère a véritable librury. You would be proud if you know 
the priée the magistrates attachée! to tins enormous col- 
lection of manuscripts and proofs, which I was forced to 
show thom in my lawsuit with the tw Revue de Paris." 
r Fhe rage for thèse things was quite absurd. ]\L de Mon- 
thoion wanted to buy for a hundred francs one of those 
u orders to print " which you saw me write in Geneva. 
Put any printer who abstraeted from Madame Ilanska 
a single one of lier proofs would be quittée! by me. 

AVell, adriio. Take care of yoursolf. Alas ! if I only 
had money! In a few days I must hnve a month's rest, 
and thon I coule! hâve gone and spent a week in your 
Wierzchownia. But nothing is possible topoverty — to 
that poverty which the world envies me ! 

Ciiullot, Oetober 28, 1830. 
ï hâve ivoeived your letter number 11), addressed to the 
widow Durand, which ends with a dreadful " Be happy! " 
I w T ould hâve preferred another wisli, though less Chris- 



1836] Letters to Madame Han&ka. 3u7 

tian. I write in haste to tell you that I bave received ail 
your letters; there is no reason why, though I am at 
Chaillot, I should not get my letters from the rue Cassini. 

La Marchesa is a very agreeable old woman who Lad, 
they say, ail Turin at lier feet thirty years ago. You are 
not, in spite of your analytical mind, either generous or 
attentive ; you write me a quantity of phrases, to which 
I cannot answer; you éveil overwhelm me with them, 
while I hâve to read them with my arms crossed, my lips 
silent, and my heart sick. But on tins point you will find 
a word in my last letter. 

I write now only to say one thing. I hâve put many 
anxieties into your heart, if you hâve for me ail the affec- 
tion that I hâve for you. 80, then, you must now be 
told that the end of so much misery is approaching. Did 
I tell you that one clay, when a mind astray led me to the 
river so frequented by suicides (those are things that I 
hâve hidden from you), I met the former head-clerk of 
my lawyer, who w T as my comracle in légal days. He was 
the head of the lawyer's office where Scribe and I were 
placed. This poor young fellow has, so he say s himself, 
a saintly respect for genius (that word always makes me 
laugh), and he believed me to be at the suramit of fortune 
and honours. I, who would die like the Spartan with the 
fox at my vital s rather than betray my penury, T had 
the weakness, at that moment when I was bidding fare- 
well to many things, to pour out a heart too full. It was 
at a spot that I shall never forget ; rue de Rivoli, before 
the iron gâte of the Tuileries. This poor m an who is — 
remark this — a business man in Paris, said, with moist 
eyelids : — 

" Monsieur de Balzac, ail that a sacred zeal can do, 
expect from me. I ought only to speak to you by results. 
I shall try to save you." 

And yesterday, this brave and devoted young man 
wrote me that he had succeeded in makins: a loan which 



&)8 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

would liquidate my debts, lift off the burden of anxiety, 
and louve me time to pay ail. And sometliing finer still. 
WJien the lender heard tlie naine of the borrower, lie, who 
wanted ten per cent and securities, would take only five 
por cent and a mortgage on my works. JVIay those two 
names be blest ! If (his tJtùty is arriuajed, for I own to 
you J hâve lit-tic; faith in luek, I shall escape a long 
suicide — that of death by toil. 

I>esides this loan, a company is to be formed for the 
management of my works. I am following up this affair, 
about which I think 1 hâve already spoken to you, very 
warmly. it will be donc col tempo. J hâve about forty 
thousand francs to pay immediately ; but I shall hâve 
earned nearly sixty thousand in a short time. instead of 
working eighteen liours, I sliali then work nine, and I 
shall liave won, after fourteen years' labour, the right to 
corne and go as I please. It is too fine; I don't believe 
in it. 

The live hundied francs sent as you sent them, now 
instead of a ïcw months later, hâve l>een, between our- 
selves, a benefit. Boulanger needed the money ; and I am 
now bestirring myself to get liim a thousand francs for 
the right to es-grave the portrait. That outrageons miser 
(Justine paid him only three thousand francs for his pic- 
ture of kt Le Triomphe de Pétrarque," while my portrait 
will thus hâve brought him fifteen hundred francs. But 
can we get an cngraver to pay one thousand for the right 
of engraving? That is what 1 am trying to do. 

Now, hère is a grave question ; I want you to hâve the 
original. Boulanger wants to exhibit it. Though I 
shall pose for the eopy, a copy never lias the indefinable 
beauty of a can vas on which the painter lias sought ont, 
scrutinized, and seized the soûl of his mode!. We must 
therefore wait ; for, to the artist, my portrait is a battle 
to win before the eyes of his eomrades. They are be- 
ginning to talk of this canvas — which is magnificent. 



1836] Letters to Madame ITanska. 369 

The copy will be reacly in a month. You could receive 
it in January. But if you permit me to s end* you tbe 
original, it cannot leave till after tbe Exbibition. 1 
bave conferred witb Boulanger: tbougb I pose for tbe 
copy, and tbougb be wants to make as good a tbing, be 
ahvays says to me, "A copy, even doue by tbe artist 
bimself, is never worth tbe original." 

Let me tell you tbat my motber, wbo will be on tbe 
Salon catalogue as baving ordered tbe portrait, will be 
qui te indiffèrent about baving tbe copy or tbe original. 
(Tbis is between ourselves.) You bave time to answer 
me about tbis. Tbe newspapers are beginning to speak 
of tbe portrait. Tbe painters say of it, obligingly, what 
people said to me of "Sérapbita." I did not tbink tbat 
Boulanger w^as capable of making sucb a picture. In 
style of art it is masterly. It bas cost me two volumes 
wbicb I migbt bave made during tbe last sittings — 
wbicb I bad to give standing. 

Wbatever bappens, let me confidc to you a very bad 
feeling tbat I bave: it is tbat I don't like my friends to 
judge me; I want thein to believe tbat wbat I détermine 
on doing is necessary. A sentiment discussed bas no 
more existence tban a power controlled. Wby couple 
pettiness witb greatness? 

As I bave added a second sheet to tbe single one 
■which I intended to cover witb ink and friendsbip, I will 
tell you tbat Werdet is horrible to me. Anotber décep- 
tion about wbicb I must keep silence, anotber wound I 
must receive, more calumnies to listen to calmly. Tbere 
is no publisber possible for me so long as be is a pub- 
lisber of tbe publisbing race. I made every sacrifice for 
that man, and now be kills me, be refuses to join in 
taking measures for our common interests. I must be 
willing to lose thirty tbousand more francs and be accuser! 
of baving wrecked a man for w r bom I hâve used ail my 
resources, put my si! ver in pawn, lent my signature, etc., 

LU 



C70 Honore de Balzac. [1836 

and wriiten ïifteen 12mo volumes and six 8vo volumes 
in the course of two years! Ile 's a sparrow's head on 
the body of a cbild! 

I must now corne to the selfishness of a man w r ho 
works, not for bimself, but for bis creditors. Tliis is 
the third trial of my life. After this, my expérience 
ought to be complète. J am expecting Werdet on Sun- 
day. Jf be bas good sensé matters may stiil be arrangée!. 
But be 's a perfect cbild. After tbe third montb J judged 
the man to whom L bad intrusted tbe material interests 
of my works. But thèse are secrets one keeps to one's 
self. I hoped lie would follow my advice; but no! lie is 
like a cbild with a sparrow r 's head, and, over and above 
it ail, as obstinate as a donkey. Moreover, lie lias tbe 
fatal defect of saying "yes" and doing the contrary, or 
else lie forgets what he promises. 

I am much distressed; ail this will belp to publish 
calumnies w r hich Werdet is already assisting, for lie finds 
it convenient to say that he fails because of me. 

Well, adieu. Remember that I never read over my 
letters; I bave barely time to w T rite tbem between two 
proofs. If anything shocks y ou, pardon it. A tbousand 
tender regards. Do not forget to remember me to ail. 
Write me regularly. If you knew what one of your 
letters is to me in my life of toil, you would w r rite out 
of charity. 

Tours, Novemher 23, 1836. 

After tbe great struggle that I bave just maintained, 
and of wbich you bave been sole confidant, I felt tbe 
need of returning to tbe cara patrici, to rest like a child 
on tbe bosom of ils motber. 

If you fînd a gap in my letters, you must attribute it to 
what bas just been taking p!ace, of wdiieh you sball now T 
l)e told in a few w r ords. AU my debfs are paid; I mean 
those that harassed me. Tbe prospect that promised 



1836] Lctlers to Madame Hansska. 371 

goocl by a loan f ailed ; everylhing about me became 
more serions, more inflamed. During this month writs, 
protests, sheriffs, crowded upon me; I truly think that a 
stout volume in-folio could be made of that literature of 
nnsfortune. 

Then, when fiâmes surrounded me on every side, when 
aîl had failed me on the side of succour, when no friend 
could or perhaps would save me, before renouncing 
France and going to iind a country in Russia, in the 
Ukraine, I attempted a last effort; and that effort was 
crowned with a success which will redouble the bitterness 
of my enemies. God grant that you will divine ail the 
agony that lies on this simple page, for then you will 
indeed feel pity for your poor moujik. 

Nothing still shone on the horizon in this great ship- 
wreck of ail my ambitions but the unajîdes, the principle 
of which is adoremus in œternum. 

I went to find a speculator named Victor Bohain, to 
whom I had done some very disinterested services. He 
immediately called in the man who had drawn Chateau- 
briand out of trouble, and a capitalist who has of late 
done a publishing business. Hère is the agreement that 
came out of our four heads : — ■ 

1. They gave me fifty thousand francs to pay my 
urgent debts. 

2. They secure me, for the first year, fîfteen hundred 
francs a month. The second year, I may hâve three 
thousand monthly; and the fourth, four thousand, up to 
the fifteenth year, if I supply them with a certain number 
of volumes. We are in partnership for fifteen years. 
We are not author and publishers, but associâtes, part- 
ners. I bring to them the management of ail my books 
made or to be made for fifteen years. My three asso- 
ciâtes agrée to advance ail costs and give me half the 
profits above the cost of the volume. My eighteen, 
twenty-four, or forty-eight thousand francs a year and 



372 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

the fifty thousand francs paid clown are chargée! upon my 
profits. 

Sucli is the basis of the treaty which delivers me for- 
ever from newspapers, publishers, and lawsuits; thèse 
gentlemen being subslituted for me in ail my rights as 
to management, sale, etc. They share the profits of my 
peu with me, like ail other prolits of sale. It is like a 
farm on shares, where my intellect is the soil, with tins 
différence, — that I, the owner, have no costs or risks, 
and that I finger my profits without anxiety. 

This agreeinent is a great deal more advantageons than 
that of M. de Chateaubriand, beside whom spéculation 
places me; for I sell nothing of my future; whereas for 
one hundred thousand francs, and twelve thousand 
francs a year, rising to twenty-five thousand when he 
published anything, M. de Chateaubriand gave up 
everything. 

I would not send you won! of ail this until the papers 
were signed. They were signed on Saturday, li)th, and 1 
started for Tours the 20 th; and now, after one day's rest, 
I send you this little scrap of a letter, scribbled in hasle. 

1 have no doubt that between now and spring we shall 
employ the means I discovered of preventing piracy; 
and if I make a journey on that account, God and you 
alone know with what rapidity I shall go to Wierz- 
chownia to tell you ail that time, business, cares, and 
the narrow limits of a letter, have prevented me from 
putting, as yet, into my correspondence, smothered by so 
many causes! 

I ara very unensy about you and yours. It is now an 
immense time since I have received any word from you. 
Lt has been a torture the more to add to ail my other 
pains and dis tresses. You have moments of cruelty 
which make me doubt yonr friendship; tlien, when I 
fancy you may be i:l, that jour little Anna is a cause of 
anxiety, or that — that — etc., then my head decamps! 



183G] Letters to Madame Hanska. 373 

I was ail the more obligée! to corne hère because the 
-National G-uard, for wliom I bave ten more days of prison 
to do, worries me horribly. The grocers and gendarmes 
are at my beels. I bave not been able to go to my clear 
Italian Opéra for fear tbey sbould arrest me. At this 
moment I must finish "Illusions Perdues" in order to be 
done with Werdet, and the tbird dizain ; also two works 
for the " Presse" and two for the "Figaro." After 
which, my peu is free, and my new treaty will go into 
exécution. Now, as Werdet is much clisposed to tor- 
ment me, I must give him bis devil of a volume as soon 
as may be. 

I shall bave a hard year, because, to reach a tolerable 
condition, I must complète what my pen already owes; 
and besides that, show a value of ten volumes to my 
associâtes. Until I do that, I shall be misérable. 

After baving kilîed my janissaries (creditors), I must, 
like Mahmoud, introcluce a vast reform into my States. 
So hère I am in my garret, baving paid ail, evacuated 
the rue Cassini, and keeping no one but Auguste and a 
boy for ail service. I bave resolved never to dine from 
home and to continue my monk's life for three years. 

I left Paris so hurriedly that I hâve not brought with 
me the sacred seal, nor the autograph I wanted to send 
you; this will prove to you the perturbations of my 
triumpb. 

Three days hence I shall go, I think, to Rochecotte, to 
see the Duchesse de Dino, and the Prince de Talleyrand, 
whom I bave never seen; and you know how I désire to 
see the witty turkey who plucked the eagle and made it 
tumble into the ditch of the bouse of Austria. As foi- 
Madame de Dino, I bave already met lier at Madame 
Appony's. 

I finished this very morning "L'Enfant Maudit." 
You will not recognize that poor nugget; it is chased, 
mounted, and set with pearls. Eead it again in the 



374 Honoré de Balzac. [1836 

•'Etudes Philosophiques " with "Le Secret des Ruggieri " 
and "Le Martyr Calviniste," and ask yourself what sort 
of iroii heacl it was that coukl fight and write and suffer 
ail at once. I wrote "La Vieille Fille" in the midst of 
thèse worries, struggles, and préoccupations. 

Hâve you sometimes prayed God for me, with ail the 
force of your beautiful, ingéniions soûl, that I might 
obtain sonie sort of tranquiility ? — for 1 slill owe the sums 
I owed before. But I hâve no longer to ilnd them. This 
mode of payment leaves me my time free and relieves 
me of worry. 1 spare you the détails of the agreement, 
which lias been the object of long examination by my 
lawyers, and business agents, very devoted men, who 
think it good and honourable. 

You coukl never believe how I miss the bulletin of your 
calm and solitary life, what interest 1 take in that iife, 
and what peace the contemplation of it sheds upon m} 7 
agitated life. Either it is very bad of you to eut me off, 
or you are î 11 ; on each side anxiety, thinking that you 
suffer or that your friendship diminishes. 

Well, adieu. I meant to write you only one word: 
there is truce between misfortune and me. But when 
once I begin to talk to you, the peu is never heavy in 
my fingers. I wish you ail mercies in your life, for this 
letter and its wdshes will reach you, I suppose, about 
Christmas day. Many amiable things to M. Ilanski, 
and a kiss to your dear Anna on the forehead. 

I return to my corrections, for T niust iinisli "Illusions 
Perdues" for December 10, in default of which I shall 
fall back into lawsuits. 

La Grenadière has escaped me; it is sold; but the 
cruel event that has weighed me down this year bns 
changed my désire for that poor cottage. 1 could not 
live in it if I had it. I am looking for a vineyard where 
I could build without the cost beiim* much. 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 375 

Paris, December 1, 1836. 

I bave just returned from Touraine, where I wrote you 
the letter of a man of business. You will knovv, at the 
moment wben this letter is racing along the roacls, tbat 
you bave no more anxieties to sbare in relation to tbe 
financial affairs of tbe monk of Chaillot. I kneel 
humbly at your feet ancl beg you to grant me plenary 
indulgence for ail tbe tears I bave beretofore sbed upon 
tbem. 

You made me smile wben you reproacbed me in your 
good letter (number 20) for not reading your prose 
attentively. If I read tbe Holy Scriptures as I read 
your letters I sbould bave to go and stand by Saint- 
Jérôme; ancl if I read my own books in tbat way, tbere 
would be no faults in tbem. You say tbat I do not 
answer certain tbings. As to tbat, I can only be silent. 

Now, before ail, business. Poor Boulanger is an artist 
botb proud and poor, a noble and kind nature. As soon 
as I got any money I carried bim tbe five bundred francs, 
pretending tbat I bad received tbem ; for from me, per- 
haps, be would not bave taken tbem. Now tbat tbe 
matter concerns me only, tbere is no burry, and to say 
it once for ail, you need only sencl me a bill of exchange 
on Rothschild to my order. Now that you bave sent me 
the proper address, ail is well. You will receive the pic- 
ture after our Exhibition, whicb begins in February. I 
bave not tbe courage to allow tbe copy only to be 
exbibited. Poor Boulanger would die of grief. He sees 
a wbole future in it. Since I wrote to you about it 
many stern judges bave seen it, and tbey ail put this 
work above many others. Tbere was question of a poor 
engraver for tbe picture. Planche went to see Boulan- 
ger and advised bim to despise the tbousand francs 
otïered, and wait the efïect the picture would produce in 
the Salon, — assuring him he would then bave the best 
engravers and a better price at bis command. Tbere 's 



37G Honoré de Balzac. [1S36 

a litlle of Titian and Rubens mingled in it. The copy 
will be substituted for the original for uiy moiher, wko 
will see no différence, and wiio, between ourselves, cares 
little for it. l'on will therefore bave tbe canvas on 
which Boulanger bas put ail bis strengtb and for which I 
posed thirty times. 

Wbat a mi sf or tune tbat I cannot send y on a beautiful 
frame tbat 1 brought from Touraine and which is now 
being regilt! I got it for twenty francs, and tLere is 
in it more tban two kundred francs of days' work paid 
lifly years ago to tbe carver who made it. 

bince I wrote you i bave been very il 1. Ail thèse 
distresses, discussions, toils, and fatigues produced, at 
Sache, a nervous, sanguineous attack. I was at death's 
door for one whole day. But nmch sleep and the woods 
of Sache put me right in tbree days. 

In your letter I lind a reproach which, between our- 
selves, is serions; tbat reîating to an evening at tbe 
Opéra. You must kuow me very little if you do not 
think tbat after tbe sorrow tbat t'eil upon me jny mourn- 
ing is eternal, at every moment; tbat it folio ws me in 
ail my joys, at my work, everywhere. Oh! for pity's 
sake, since } t ou nloise eau touch that wound in my heart, 
never touch it roughly. My affections of tbat kind are 
immutable; they are held in a part of my heart and soûl 
where nothing else enters. Tliere is rooin there for two 
sentiments omy ; it was needful for the îirst to terminale, 
as it has, before tlie other eould tako ail its strengtb; 
and now that other is infinité. Of whnt good would be 
the power with which I am invested if not to niake within 
m^yself a sanctuary, pure and ever ardent, where nothing 
of outside agitation can })enetrate? The image placed 
on high upon that rock, pure, inaccessible, can never be 
taken clown; and if she herself descended from it, she 
could never prevent lier iplace from being marked there 
fore ver. 



1836] Letlers to Madame HansJca* 377 

Under tbis point of view, whether I go to hear "Guil- 
laume Tell " or remain to weep in ni y chimney-eorner, 
ail is immutable in that centre where few words ever 
corne. - But, dear, remember also that I am not worldly ; 
I am so little that that the few steps l' take in society 
assume a gravity that alarms me. Once more, use your 
analytical mind and ask yourself, writing down on paper 
the dates of my works, what time I should hâve to write 
them if I allowed myself a pleasure, a festivity, a dis- 
traction. Since the winter began, which is now two 
months, I hâve been but twice to the Opéra, and each 
time with Madame Delannoy and her daughter, Madame 
Visconti being absent. 

Now that I hâve gained the relief of having no more 
fmancial anxieties, I hâve exchanged those cares for 
incessant labour. The ten days a month that material 
struggle cost me will now be employed in work; for, to 
gather the fruits of this new arrangement, I must not 
leave for eighteen months this garret that you think so 
salubrious. It is not. The donner- window is too high 
up; I cannot look ont of it. As soon as I can, I shall 
go down to work on the second floor, where the air is 
better, more abundant. 

Any other than myself would be frightened at my pen 
obligations. I must give within the next three months: 
"La Haute Banque " and "La Femme Supérieure" to the 
"Presse ; " "César Birotteau " and "Les Artistes " to the 
"Figaro; " publish the "Illusions Perdues " and the third 
dizain* and prépare for April the "Mémoires d'une jeune 
Mariée'' w^ithout counting what I hâve to do on the third 
and fourth Parts of the "Etudes Philosophiques." Be- 
lieve me, the man who achieves such work has no time 
for puérile amusements. It is now three years that I 
hâve not taken a penfid of ink without seeing your name; 
for accident made me keep one of your visiting cards, 
and I placed it on my inkstand. You will not believe 



378 Honoré de Balzac, [1836 

tbat sincc Huit time I bave never become blasé on the 
infantile pleasurc of seeing your name married to ail my 
thoughts. I put it tbere to be able to write correetly 
your name and address, and yct you reproacb me with 
not readîng your Jettera properly! You understand tbat 
I respect too mucb the pure friendship tbat you allow me 
to feel for you to talk to you about things tbat I despise; 
in the first place, it would give me a conceited air; and 
you know whether I hâve ever been accused of conceit. 

Seriously, I live mucb at Wierzchownia. I am inter- 
ested in ail you tell me; your visita to neighbours, your 
affairs, your pleasures, your park which extends to right 
and left; ail tbat occupies my miud. Read tbis as I 
write it, with a childiike beart; for thèse affairs of yours 
are my affairs, as, perbaps, you and M. Hanski make 
mine yours, in the evenings, depîoring my troubles — 
now over. If you arc sad, I am saddened ; when your 
letter is gay I am gay. Solitude produces tbis quick 
exchange of affections. The soûl bas the faculty of liv- 
ing on the spot tbat pleases it. Certainly, it needed 
the désire to be with you, at least in painting, to make 
me bear the loss of thirty days which Boulanger required. 
You alone are in the secret of my affairs, as you are in 
tîie secret of what Madame de Rerny was to me. You 
alone know my mourning and a loss which can never be 
repaired; for hère the sky is inclement, it tc is too liigli," 
as you say in Roland, and you are too far oit*. Rut keep 
me, very whole and without diminution, tbat affection 
which makes me less sad in sad hours, and gaver in the 
bright ones. Remember tbat I bave no life but one of 
toil, tbat I am not in the midst of the talk tbat is made 
about me, tbat the émotions of famé do not. reach me, 
that I live by a little bope and sun, in a hidden nestî 

The autograph of JVIademoiselle Mars is addressed to 
me. It relates to lier part in " La Grande Mademoiselle." 
There 's the mysterious simplilled. As soon as I bave 



1836] Letters to Madame Hanska. 379 

the "George S and " I will send it to y'ou; but I should 
like you also to bave tbe "Aurore Dudevant," so tbat 
you should possess ber under botb forais. 

Continue, I beg you, to tell me ail you tbink of me, 
without paying heed to my laments. You are right; 
better any suffering than dissimulation. But, seriously 
speaking, I see tbat you listen too mucb to your first im- 
pulse ; you are, f orgive me, violent and excitable, and in 
your first anger you are capable of breaking things with- 
out knowing whether they can be mended. I bave put 
the word seriously to give weight to my jesting. Do not 
tberefore allow yourself to be carried awoy by tbe tattle 
of calumny ; if any one were to corne and tell me — as 
tkey did you — that you bad married Alexandre Dumas, 
do you not tbink I should bave laughed heartily — ail the 
while regretting that a life so beautiful and noble should 
become a subject for tattle? Yes, seriously, I should 
always regret to sec calumny brush the noble forehead of 
a woman, even if it left nothing behind it. In tliat I am 
just as positive as M. Ilanski in my o])inions. We mcn, 
we can défend ourselves ; we bave a stronger flight, which 
can put us above the rubbish of the press and the slanders 
of society. But you ! you, who live calm and solitary 
within the precincts of a home, without our forum and 
our sword, truly it pains me when I know that a woman 
who is indiffèrent to me is made the object of calumny, or 
even ridicule. ' From you to me, you know whether in my 
jnflgments I am actuated by the narrow sentiments with 
which artists and writers usually speak of their comrades. 
I live apart from ail such matters. Well, D . . . is a 
smirched man, a mountebank, and worse than that, a man 
of no talent. They bave again offered me the cross, and 
I hâve again refused it. 

I flattered myself that the post would carry to } t ou more 
quickly than usual the letter in which I announced to you 
the end of the money troubles that caused you so much 



380 Honoré de Balzac. ["1836 

pain. Iïavc I suihViently proved my friendship in telling 
you sorrows that 1 concealcd from the rest of tlie worid ? 
Now, ï shall hâve ouly my work to talk to you about. 

When I see you 1 will tell you in détail about thèse 
days of ponury, thèse fights of winch you know only the 
main features, for ï sent you nierely bulletins. If there 
is some confusion in my letters it is that their dates are 
irregular; I quit them and return to them as my hurried 
occupations will allow. My way of working is still so 
diilicult! 

I entreat you, read each letter as if we were at the 
day on which it was written ; and remember that nothing 
can prevail against lier to whom it is addressed. Jt 
grieves me that, apropos of tins joy set into the brass of 
my work, you should speak of hopes beinglost! AVe will 
explain ail that later, for, if I accomplish my tasks by the 
months of May or June, I shall take my liight to your 
great plain, and } T ou will see your white serf otherwise 
than in paintipg. Then you shail see him famous, for 
by that time I shail hâve published : u César Birotteau," 
" La Torpille," the third dizain, Cfc Illusions Perdues," 
"La Haute Banque," "La Femme Supérieure," " Les 
Mémoires d'une jeune Mariée," — ail great and fine paint- 
ings added to my gallery. 

AVhat an outery lias been made against u La Vieille 
Fille"! AVhen youlaugh on reading it, you will ask your- 
seîf what the manners and morals of thèse French jour- 
naliste are — the most infamous that I know of ! 

T cannot tell you much that is îiew about my Vif e ; for 
my life is eighteen hours' daily work in a garret, where 
there is a bed (Tncver leave it), and six hours' sleep. My 
health will require great care, because it is beginning to 
be much impaired by the toil and the great anxieties to 
which I hâve been a prey. TThat T say is based on 
serions facts. T must submit to physicians, humbly, or I 
shall quickly be destroyed. 



1836] Letters to Madame Eansha. 881 

Without vanity of author, yes, re-read tîie "Lys; " the 
work gains by being rearî a second time. But I am not 
deceived about the blemishes that are still in it. But 
they shall disappear ; altliough the angel who is no more 
deciared it without a fault. 

You must never forget, dear, that I hâve ail to paint, 
and that each subject needs différent colours. We cau't 
relate Mademoiselle Cormon, the Chevalier de Valois, 
Suzanne, and du Bousquier in the style of Madame de 
Mortsauf, especially before a herd of envious beings who 
will say that I am aging unless I differentiate myself. 

You send me wishes for my happiness; pray for me 
only that God will support me in my strength for work 
and in my résignation. Solitude with one hope — that is 
my life ; it was that of the Fathers in the wilderness. 
Work is the staff with which I walk, indiffèrent to ail, 
except the thought that is placed in the sanctuary. Una 
pies. Outside of that, there are nought but distractions 
in which the heart lias no share. I mean the lifted heart, 
which is full of grief, but in which lives a sacred hope. 
You do not wholly know that vast domain ; if you did you 
w r ould not scold me. 

In " Illusions Perdues " there is a young girl named 
Eve, who, to my eyes, is the most delightful création 
that I hâve ever made. 

Adieu ; hère 's a half-day stolen from proofs, business, 
work. But in writing to you I see you, just as if I were 
studying the Almanach de Gotha at your house in 
Geneva ; and when I think of that hait made in my sor- 
rows, I fancy that ail about me is gold and that 1 hâve 
nothing to do. 

I will tell you another time of the visit I paid to 
Madame de Dino and M. de Talleyrand at Rochecotte in 
Touraine. M. de Talleyrand is amazing. He had two 
or three gushes of ideas that were prodigious. He invited 
me strongly to go and see him at Valençay, and if he 



382 Honoré de Balzac ■„ [1836 

lives I shall not fail to do so. I still bave Wellington 
and Pozzo di Borgo to see, so tliat my collection of 
antiques may be complète. 

Anna's dog is always on my desk. Tell lier tliat lier 
horse commends liimself to lier memory. A thousand 
compliments to tlie inhabîtants of your kingdom. Are 
your affairs doing well? is M. Ilanski more at liberty? 
are bis enterprises successful? Y ou eut me off too many 
détails of your proprietary meclianism. When y ou think 
of it, trace me a few itineraries of liow to go to you. 1 
bave my reasons for wishing to know tlie various routes 
tliat lead tliere. 

Well, again adieu, and tender wishes for ail tliat con- 
cerns you. 1 am in terror when 1 think of you on tlie 
roads where tliere are wolves and Jewish coaclimen. 

Tins week I give Boulanger bis last sitting. As soon 
as I bave fmisbed tc Illusions Perdues" i will Avrite to 
you. Till tben I am caugbl in a vice, day and niglit. 



1837] Letters to Madame Ilansha. 383 



V. 

LETTERS DURING 1837. 

Paris, Jannary 1, 1837. 

Today I hâve had a great happiness ; some one came 
to see me whom I bave not seen for eternities, and who 
bas given me such pleasure that I hâve been sitting, ail 
day long, dreamily talking to her ; l I never wearied of it. 
She has made a long journey, Lut a fortunate one. She 
is not changed. Do you not think there are Leings in 
whom résides a larger portion of our life than in ourselves ? 
You will know this being some day. I will not hâve you 
like lier Letter than I do, Lut yoxx cannot prevent your- 
self from being friendly, were it only on aecount of my 
fanaticism for her. She is a being so good, so constant, 
so grand, of so lofty a minci, so true, so naïve, so pure! 
Thèse are the beings who serve as foils to ail that we see 
about us. I cannot prevent myself from telling you of 
my joy as if you knew her, but I perceive that I am talk- 
ing Greek to you. Forgive me that folly. There are, as 
Chérubin says, certain moments when we talk to the air, 
and it is better to talk to the heart of a friend. 

Then this good day came in the midst of my hardest 
work, for " Illusions Perdues " must be finished under 
penalty of lawsuits and summons; at a moment, too, 
when I am very weary of the toils of this Lard year, so 
hard î 

1 Madame Hanska's miniature by Daffinger, a copy of which she 
had sent liim. 



884 Honore de Balzac. [1837 

I received some days ago your number 21. I have 
many things to say to you. But lime ! wlieii one lias to 
pay iifty francs a day for every day\s delay. I sec the 
moment wheu I sliull eseape tins vile abyss ; but my 
wings are weary hovering over it. 

You say so little of " La Vieille Fille " that I think the 
book must liave dlspleased you. Say so boldiy; you 
luive a voiee in the ehapter; and I '11 tell you my reasons. 

Jt will be diiîieult to judge of 4w Illusions Perdues." I 
eau oui y give the beginning of the book, and three years 
must pass (as for * k i/Knfaut Maudit ") before I étui 
continue it. 

I hâve meditated l)ringing you my portrait in person. 
If you hear the clack of a vvhip, the Freneh clack, 
resounding in your courtyard, do not be înucli surprised. 
1 need a month's complète séparation from ideas, fatigues, 
in short, from ail there is in France, and 1 long for Wierz- 
chownia as for an oasis in the désert. None but myself 
know the good that Switzerland did me. Kothing but the 
question of money ean hinder me. 

I was mistaken in my estimation of my debts. The} 7 
gave me fîfty thousand francs; but I needed fourteen 
thousand more, and seven thousand for an endorsement 
imprudently given to Werdet. But î feel that the stage 
and two fine works will save me. To make the tvro plays, 
1 need to hide in some désert place that no one knows of ; 
and this is what I should like : to be one or two months 
buried in your snows. The more snow there were, the 
happier I should be. l>ut thèse are crazy projects when 
I see the thickness of the cable that moors me hère. 

Jaimary 15, 1837. 

I have received another letter from you, in which you 
manifest anxiety al)out the letters you have written me. 
Do not fear, I have received them ail. 

The interruption of this letter is ensily explah:ed. I 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 885 

haye been ill the whole time. Finally I had what I 
seemed to hâve been in search of, an inflammation of the 
bowels, which is scarcely quieted to-day. I still sufïer, 
but that is a small matter. I hâve had constant suffering, 
and I greatly feared an inflammation for my poor brain 
after so painful a year, painful in so many ways, hard in 
toil, and cruel in émotions, full of distresses. There was 
nothing surprising in such an illness. However, though 
I can, as y et, digest only milk, ail is well and I résume 
m y work. 

"Illusions Perdues" appears this week. On the 17th 
I hâve a meeting to close up ail claims from Madame 
Bechet and Werdet. So there is one cause of torment the 
less. I am now going to work on ' c La Haute Banque " 
and " César Birotteau," and after that it wiil be but a 
small matter to free my peu. Ail will then be done ; and 
I shall enter upon the exécution of my new conventions, 
which only oblige me to six volumes a year, — to me an 
oasis from the moment that I hâve no longer the worry of 
the financial struggle. As for the fifteen thousand francs 
I still owe, I can quickly make head against them with 
a few plays. Besicles, I hâve always hopcs of the London 
affair. But I won't count any more exccpt on that which 
is. 

Your last letter did me a good for which I thank you ; 
I was in the calm state p'roduced by forced confinement 
to my bed, and the détails of your life delighted me. I 
think you very happy to be alone. Would you believe 
that, in spite of my illness, I was more harassed than 
ever about business? But ail will now be paeificated. I 
shall only hâve to work, dear monitor. You speak golden 
worcls, but they hâve no other merit than to tell me more 
elegantly just what I tell myself . Moreover, you make 
me out little defects which I hâve not, to give yourself 
the pleasure of scolding me. No one is less extravagant 
than I; no one is willing to live with more economy. 

25 



880 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

Eut reflect that I work too much to busy myself with 
certain détails, and, in short, that I had rather spend five 
to six thousand francs a year than marry to hâve order 
in my household ; for a m an who undertakes what I h ave 
undertaken either marries to hâve a quiet existence, or 
accepta the wretchedness of La Fontaine and Rousseau. 
For pity's sake, don't talk to me of my want of order; it 
is the conséquence of the independence in which I live, 
and which I désire to keep. 

To rid myself on this thème of ail solicitation on the 
part of those, men and women, who worry me about it, I 
hâve given ont m} T programme, and declared that, although 
I hâve passed the fatal âge of thirty-six, I wish a wife in 
keeping with my years, of the highe^t nobiiity, educated, 
witty, rich, as able t o live in a garrot as to play the part 
of ambassadress, without having to endure the imperti- 
nences of Vienna — iike a person you hâve known — and 
willing to live wilhout complaint as the wife of a poor 
book-workman ; also I must be specially adored, espoused 
for my defects even more than for my f e\v good qualifies ; 
and this wife must be grand enough, through intelligence, 
to understand that in the du al life there must be that 
sacred liberty by which ail proofs of affection are vol- 
un tary and not tlio effect of duty (inasmuch as I abhor 
duty in matters of the heart) ; and, finally, that when this 
plxcnix, this only woinan who can render the author of 
the kt Physiologie du Mariage " unhappy, is found, — I '11 
think about it. 8o now I live in perfect tranquillity ; 
yet not without my griefs. When the brain and the 
imagination are both wearied, my life is more diflicult 
than it was in the past. There 's a blank that saddens 
mco The adored friend is hère no longer. Fvery day I 
hâve occasion to déplore the eternal absence. Won kl 
you believe tiiat for six months 1 hâve not been able to 
go to Nemours to bring away the things that ought to be 
in my sole possession? Fvery week I say to myself, "It 



1837] Letter s to Madame ITansJca. 887 

sliall be this week ! " That sorrowful f act paints my life 
as it is. Ah ! how I long for the liberty of going and 
coming. No, I am in the galleys ! 

Yes, I am sorry y ou hâve not written me your opinion 
of " La Vieille Fille." "I resumed my work this morning ; 
I am obeying the last words that Madame de Berny wrote 
me : " I ean die ; I am sure that you hâve upon your brow 
the crown I wished to see there. The ' Lys' is a" sub- 
lime work, without spot or flaw. Only, the death of 
Madame de Mortsauf did not neecl those horrible regrets ; 
they injure that beautiful letter which she wrote." 

Therefore, to-day I hâve piously effaced about a hun- 
dred lines, which, according to many persons, disfigure 
that création. I hâve not regretted a single word, and 
each time that my pen was drawn through one of them 
ne ver was heart of man more deeply stirred. I thought I 
saw that grand and sublime woman, that angel of friend- 
ship, before me, smiling as she smiled to me when I 
used a strength so rare, — the strength to eut one's own 
limb on and feel neither pain nor regret in correcting, in 
conquering one's self. 

Oh ! cara, continue to me those wise, pure counsels, so 
disinterested ! If you knew with what religion I believe 
in what true friendship says. 

This counsel came to n\e several days after the enor- 
mous labour those figures, enormous themselves, necessi- 
tated. I waited six months till my ow r n critical judgment 
could be exercised on my work. I re-read the letter, 
weeping; then I took up my work and I saw that the 
angel was right. Yes, the regrets should be only sus- 
pected; it is the Abbé Dominis, and not Henriette, who 
should say the words that say ail: " Her tears accom- 
panied the fall of the white roses which crowned the 
head of that married Jephtha's daughter, now fallen one 
by one." Religion alone can express, chastely, poetically, 
with the melancholy of the Orient, this situation. Be- 



388 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

sides, what would be the good of Madame de Mortsauf s 
testament if slie expressed herself so savagely at death? 
It was true in nature, but false in a ligure so idealized. 
There are several defocts still in the work. They are in 
Félix. The animosity of people in society bas pointed 
them out to me ; but they are very difticult to obviate. 
J strive to ; the character of Félix is sacriliced in this 
work ; mnch adroitness is needed to re-establish it. I 
shall succeed, however. 

Cura, I hâve still at least sevcn years' labour, if I wish 
to achieve the work undertaken. I need some courage 
to embraee such a life, especially when it is deprived of 
the pleasures which a man desires most. Age advances! 
I bave in my soûl a little of the rage that I bave just 
taken out from that of Madame de Mortsauf. 

Adieu; I shall now re-read your last two letters and 
see if I bave in this — so rambling in conséquence of 
interruptions — forgotten to auswer any of your points; 
and I will see, too, if I hâve any faet to tell y ou about 
my life. 

We bave suddenly lost Gérard. You will nevcr bave 
known bis wonderful salon. What bornage was rendered 
to the genius, to the goodness of heart, to the mind of 
that man at his funeral. Ail the most illustrions persons 
were présent; the ehurch of Saint-Germain-des-Prés 
could not hold them. The first gentleman ["the Duc de 
Maillé] and the first painter of King Charles X. bave 
quickly followed tbeir master. There is something 
touching in that. 

I shall write to you on the day when T finish the ter- 
rible twelve volumes I bave written between our first 
meeting at Neufehatel and this year. Why can I not go 
and see you, that I might close this work, as I began it, in 
the light of your noble forehead! 

Adieu; Colonel Frankowski is still hère. That grieves 
me, beciuise you will not bave your pretty cassolette for 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 389 

New Year's day. It is on my mantelpiece for the last 
three months. Well, addio ; grant heaven that I may 
go to Germany on the saine business that may take me 
to Engiand. I shall know as to this in February. I 
should not consider a matter of two hundred leagues. If 
I go to Stuttgard I shall go to Wierzchownia. 

You know ail I hâve to say to your little woiid of the 
Ukraine. Good health above ail ; that is the p rayer of 
those who hâve jast been ill. 

Paris, February 10, 1837. 

I have received your last sad letter, in which you tell 
me of the illness and convalescence of M. Hanski from 
the prostration of the grippe. I have, as to my own 
health, barring ail danger however, the saine thing to 
tell you. Nearly the whole of my month of January was 
taken up by an attack of very intense cholerine, which 
deprived me of ail energy and ail my faculties. Then, 
after getting over that semi-ridiculous illness, I was 
seized by the grippe, which kept me ten days in bed. 

So you have been practising the profession of nurse, 
cara, and M. Hanski lias been ill to the point of keeping 
his bed for a long time, — he who weut into the déserts 
of the Ukraine to lead a patriarchal life. Jf I joke, it is 
because I imagine that by the time my letter reaches you 
his convalescence will be over and ail will be well with 
him, and with you — for I am not ignorant of the nursing 
you have just clone ; I know how fatiguing it is. .In such 
cares about a patient's bed, the limbs swell and cause 
dull pains which affect the heart; I have nursed my 
mother. 

Before my grippe I had, luckily, hnished the last Part 
of the " Etudes de Mœurs,' 7 or God know s wliat difficul- 
ties I should have f allen into ! So that brings the first 
twelve volumes of the " Etudes," begun at the time of my 
visit to Geneva in 1834, to an end in January, 1837. I 



•390 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

am much grieved not to be ablo to make you a little visit 
after this aceomplishment of one of îny hardest tasks. 
You accompanied u Eugénie Grandet '' with a smile; I 
would hâve liked to see the saine smile on u Illusions 
Perdues " — on the beginning and on the end of the 
way. 

You are very right, you who know the empire that my 
work exereises on my life, to let drop into a bottomless 
abyss ail tîie foliies that are said about nie, whether tliey 
corne from a princess or a fish-womau. Did not some one 
corne and ask me if it was true I had niarried one of the 
Elsslers, a dancer, — I, who cannot endure any of the 
people who set foot upon the stage? Dut hère, in Paris, 
in the same town with me, not two steps away from me, 
they tell the most unheard-of tliings about me. 80111e 
deseribe me as a monster of dissoluteness and debauchery, 
others as a (langerons and vindictive animal whom cvery 
one should attaek. I could not tell you ail they say of 
me. I am a spendthrift ; sometimes a lax mau, sometimes 
an intractable one. 

But let us leave sneh nonsense ; it is enough that it 
weighs on me ; it would be too much to lot it weigh upon 
our dear correspondent. 

80 now I am delivered from the most odious contra et 
and the most odious people in the worid. T!ie last Part 
was published a few days ago. It contains Ck La Grande 
Bretèche " réarrangée! ; that is to say, better framed than 
it was originally, and accompanied by two other adven- 
t ures. Also u La Vieille Fille," one of my besfc things 
(in my opinion), though it lias roused a cloud of feuille- 
tons against me. But Du Bousquior is as fine an image 
of the men who mauaged affairs u?:der the Pepublic and 
became libérais under the Restorntion as the Chevalier 
de Valois is of the old remains of the Louis XV. period. 
Mademoiselle Coraaon is a very original création, in my 
opinion. That is one of the figures which are almost 



1837] Letters to Madame Kanska. 391 

unapproachable for the novelist, on account of the few 
salient points they ofïer to take liold of. But difficalties 
like thèse are little appreciated, and I resign myself in 
such cases to having worked for my own ideas. 

"Illusions Perdues" is the introduction to a much 
more extensive work. Thèse barbarous editors, impelled 
by money considérations, insist on their three hundred 
and sixty pages, no matter what they are. " Illusions 
Perdues " required three volumes ; there are still two to 
do, which wiil be called "Un Grand Homme de Province 
à Paris ; " this will, later, be joined to " Illusions Per- 
dues," when the first twelve volumes are reprinted; just 
as the " Cabinet des Antiques " will conclude " La Vieille 
Fille." 

I am now going to take up the last thirteen volumes of 
the " Études de Mœurs," which I liope will be fiuished in 
1840. 

You will notice a considérable lapse of time between 
my last letter and this one ; it w T as taken up by the suf- 
ferings (without danger) wdiich my two little consécutive 
illnesses caused me. I thought one would save me from 
the other, but it was no such thing. I am still very mis- 
érable ; the cough is a horrid difficulty ; it shakes me and 
kills me. 

I dine to-morrow w r ith Madame Kisseleff, who lias 
promised to make me know Madame Z . . . , of whom you 
hâve told me so much that I asked for this dinner, before 
my grippe, at a beautiful bail given by Madame Appony 
to which I w r ent. It is the only one, for I go nowhere 
— except to Madame Appony's great soirées, and to those 
seldom. I do not even go to the Opéra, and I do not dine 
out, except at certain dinners which cannot be refused 
w r ithout losing supporters some day ; like those of the 
Sardinian ambassador, for instance. But except for such 
things I hâve not been ten times in six inonths outside of 
my own home. 



392 Honoré de Balzac, [1837 

February 12. 

My letter lias been interrupted for two clays; I hâve 
had business to attend to, for I hâve still enormous dilfi- 
eulties a bout the remainder of tlie debts I hâve not been 
able to pay off. 

Madame Z . . . was not at the dinner. She was taken 
with grippe the night before. This grippe stops every- 
thiug. There are more than iive hundred thousand persons 
gripped. I hâve it stiil. We had the adorer of Madame 
P . . . , Bernhard, Madame Ilamelin, the Pôle who is seek- 
ing treasures by somnambulism, and a young relation of 
Madame Kisseleff wlio squints badly, also Saint-Marsan. 
The dinner was quite gay. 

I had met Madame Kisseleff the previous evening at 
the Princess Schonberg's. A discussion arose about 
beautiful hands, and Madame Kisseleff said to me that 
she and i knew the most beautiful hands in the world ; 
she mea:rt yours, and I had the fatuity to colour up to 
my ears, very innocently, for 1 find in you so many beau- 
tiful qualifies, and something so magnificent in head and 
figure, that I could not say at that moment what your 
hands were like, and I coloured at my own ignorance. 
I only know that they are small and piump. 

T a m writing at this moment, Avith fury, a thing for the 
stage, for tliere is my salvation. I must live by the stage 
and my prose concurrently. It is called u La Première 
Demoiselle." I hâve chosen it for my début because it 
is whoily bourgeoise. Picture to yourself a house in the 
rue Saint- Denis (like La Maison du Chat qui pelote), in 
which I shali put a dramatic and tragic interest of ex- 
trême violence. No one has.yet thought of bringing the 
adultery of the husband on the stage, and my play is 
based on that grave matter of our modem civilization. 
His mistress is in the house. No one lias ever thought 
of making a female Tartuffe; and the mistress will be 
Tartuffe in petticoats ; but the empire of la première 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 393 

demoiselle over the master will be much easier to con- 
ceive than that of Tartuffe over Grgon, for the means of 
supremacy are mucli more natural and compréhensible. 

In juxtaposition with thèse two passionate figures, 
there are an oppressée! mother and two daughters equally 
victims to the perfidious tyranny of la première demoi- 
selle [forewomanj. The elder daughter thinks it wise 
to cajole the forewoman, who lias lier supporter in the 
house, for the bookkeeper loves lier sincerely. The 
tyranny is so odious to the mother and daughters that the 
younger daughter, from a principle of heroism, desires to 
deliver lier family by immoiating herself. She détermines 
to poison the tyran t ; nothing stops lier. The attempt 
fails, but the father, who sees to what extremities his 
children will go, sees also that the forewoman cannot live 
under his roof, and that, in conséquence of tliis attempt, 
ail family bonds are broken. He sends lier awa} 7 ; but, 
in the fifth act, lie finds it so impossible to live without 
tins woman that he takes a portion of his fortune, leaves 
the rest to his w T ife, and elopes with la première demoiselle 
to America. 

Those are the main features of the play. I do not 
speak of the détails, though they are, I think, as origi- 
nal as the characters, which hâve not been, to my knowl- 
edge, in any other play. There is a scène of the family 
judgment on the young gui ; there is the scène of the 
séparation, etc. 

I hope to finish it b} T Mardi 1 and to see it played 
early in May. On its success my journey will largely 
dépend ; for the day when I owe nothing I shall bave 
that liberty of going and coming for which I bave 
sighed so long. 

I await with keen impatience for another letter to tell 
me how you are, you and M. Hanski. As soon as I bave 
ended my work and my déplorable affairs you shall know 
it; I will tell you if I am satisfied with my play and with 



391 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

my last compositions, wilicli are now to be doue, and will 
take my nights and days for two months, for I must 
immediately do for tlie " Figaro" u César Birotteau" and 
for tlie u Presse " "La Haute Banque," — two books that 
are quite important. 

Atldio, cara. Be always confident in your ideas ; walk 
with courage in your own way. It seems to me that ail 
trials hâve their object and their reward ; otherwise, human 
life would hâve no meaning. As for me, tlie last pleasure 
I told you of — tlie coming of that friend so unexpectedly 
— proved to me that the sufferings through which I hâve 
passed were the priée of that great pleasure. In ail lives 
there must be such things. 

Adieu ; 1 send you this time a precious autograph, 
Lamartine; you will see that the verses are so chosen 
that they will not be ridicuious in a collection. 

Florence, April 10, 1837. 

In one month T hâve travelîed very rapidly through part 
of France, one side of Switzerland, to Milan, Venice, 
Genoa, and after being detained by inadvertence in quar- 
antine, hère I a m for the last two days in Florence, 
whcre, before seeing anything wdiatever, I rushed to 
Bartolini to see your bust. This was chiefly the object 
of this last stage of my journey, for I must be in Paris 
te n days hence. The désire to see Venice, and my quar- 
antine made me spend more time than I could allow on 
that trip, and also made me regret not having gone to 
you. But the season [tlie condition of the roads] did not 
permit it, nor my finances. 

The moment the publication of the last part of the 
" Etudes de Mœurs" was over, my strength suddenly col- 
lapsed. I h ad to distract my mind ; and 1 foresee it will 
be so every fourth or fifth month. ]\Iy health is détest- 
able, disquieting ; but 1 tell this only to you. My mind 
feels tlie effect of it. I am afraid of not being able to 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 395 

finish my work. Everywhere the want of happiness pur- 
sues me, and takes from me the enjoyment of the finest 
things. Venice and Switzerland are the two créations, 
one human, the other divine, which seem to me, until 
now, to be without any comparison, and to stand outside 
of alj ordinary data. Italy itself seems to me a land like 
an} 7 other. 

I hâve travelled so fast that nowhere had I time to 
write to y ou. My thoughts belonged to you wholly, but I 
f elt a horror of an inkstand and my pen. The loss I hâve 
met with is immense. The void it leaves might be filled 
by a présent friendship, but afar, in spite of your letters, 
grief assaiîs me at ail hours, especially when at work. 
That other soûl which counselled me, which saw ail, which 
was always the point of departure of so many things. is 
lacking to me. I begin to despair of any happy future. 
Between that soûl, absent for evermore, and the hopes to 
which I cling in sorae sweet hours, there is, believe me, 
an abyss above which I bend incessantly, and often the 
vertigo of misfortune mounts to my head. Every day 
bears away with it some shred of that gaiety which enabled 
me to surmount so many difficulties. This journcy is a 
sad trial. I am alone, without strength. 

You will probably receive my statue in Carrara marble 
(half-nature, that is, about three feet high, and marvel- 
lously like me) before the portrait of that rascal Boulanger, 
who, after the Exhibition, still wants three months to 
make the copy. I am vexed. He has five good paying 
portraits and an order for Versailles of one hundred and 
twenty feet of painting, which absorb him, and, as a 
friend, he makes me wait. So it may be that I shall 
brin g the portrait to you myself ; for, as I see it is 
impossible for me to work more than four months to- 
gether, I shall start for the Ukraine in August, through 
Tyrol and Hungary, returning by Dresden. 

I hâve a thousand things to tell you. But first, in 



396 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

return for my statue, I beg M. Hanski to sencl me a 
Utile Une authorizing Bartolini to make me a copy of 
your bust. If M. Ilanski will grant me this permission, 
I shall ask Bartolini to make it half size, so as to put it 
on my table in the study where I write. Thfit dimension 
is tlie one in winch my statue is made, and ail artists, 
Bartolini himself, think it more favorable for physiog- 
nomy ; it has more expression. It is better for the 
imagination to enlarge a head than for the eyes to see 
it in its exact proportions. 

My statue has been a work of affection, and it bears 
the stamp of it. It was doue in Milan by an artist 
named Puttinati ; he would take nothing for it. I had 
great trouble to pay even the costs and the marble. But 
I shall take him t:> Paris with ma ; I will show him Paris 
and order a group of S^raphita rising to heaven between 
Wilfrid and Minna. The pedestal shall be made of ail 
the species and terrestrial things of which she is the 
product. I shall put aside two thousand francs a year 
du ring the three years of its exécution, and that will 
suilice to pay for it. 

Venioe, which I saw for only *five days, two of which 
were rainy, enraptured me. I do not know if you ever 
noticed on the Grand Canal, just after the Palazzo Fini, 
a Iittle house with two gothic Windows ; the whole façade 
being pure gothic. 1 Every day I made them stop be- 
fore it, and often I was moved to tears. I conceived 
the happiness that two persons miglit obtain, — living 
there together, apart from ail Lhe world. Switzcrland is 
costly, but in Venice one needs so Iittle money to live! 
The price of the houp.e would not be more than two 
years' rent of the Villa Diodati, which you admired so 
much on account of Lord Byron. It would just suffice 
for a Iittle household, such as that of a poor poet, busy 
in the hours lie must ravish from felicit} T , to keep that 
1 Palnzzo Contarini-Fasâu, — Tk. 



1837] Letters to Madame Ha?isJca. 397 

felicity ever equal in its strength. The summers eould 
be passed on the Lake of Garda in a bouse as tiny. 
ïwelve thousand francs a year would give this luxury. 
May the angel who so fatally has departed forgive me, 
but, now that ail is over, I may say to you that the 
happiness to which Nature puts an end in our lifetime 
is not complète happiness. Twenty years, and more, of 
différence in âge is too great. We ought to be able to 
grow old together ; and it was permissible in me, before 
that house, to wish for the years that I once had, but with 
a woman who would be like her, with youth added. 

The future and the past are melted thus into one émo- 
tion, which is something that of Tantalus, for I hâve the 
conviction that I alone am an obstacle to that beautif ul 
life. My engagements are, for at least two years to 
corne, a barrier of honour ; and when I think that in two 
years I shall be forty, and that until that âge ail my life 
will hâve been toil, toil that uses up and destroys, it is 
difficult to believe that I can ever be the object of a pas- 
sion. Yes, the ice that study heaps about us may be 
preservative, but each thought casts snow upon our heads; 
and evening finds us with no flowers in our hands. Ah ! 
believe me, a poor poet as sincerely loving as I shed 
bitter tears before that little house. 

Yes, I cannot wrong Madame Delannoy, that second 
mother, who has intrusted to me as much as twenty-six 
thousand francs, nor my own mother whose life is mort- 
gaged on my pen, nor those gentlemen who hâve just in- 
vested in my inkstand nearly seventy thousand francs. 
Ah ! if I could win for myself two months of tranquillity 
at Wierzchownia, where I might do one or two fine plays, 
ail my life would be changed ! Those two months, so 
precious, I hâve just spent, you will tell me, in travel. 
Yes, but I started only because I was without ideas, with- 
out strength, my brain exhausted, my soûl dejected, 
worn-out with my last struggles, which, believe me, were 



898 Honoré de Balzac. [18.37 

dreadful, horrible ! Tliere came a day of despair when I 
went to get a passport to Russia. There seemed nothing 
for me but to ask you for shelter for a year or two, aban- 
doning to fools and enemies my réputation, my conscience, 
my life, winch they would hâve rent and blasted mitil the 
day that 1 returned to triumph. But had they known 
wliere I was — and they would hâve known — what would 
hâve been said ! That prospect stopped me. I can own 
it to you, now that the tempest is lulled, and I hâve onîy 
a few more efforts to make to reach tranquiliity. During 
tins montli, though my soûl is not refreshcd, at least my 
braiu is rested. I hope, on my return, that t4 César 
Birotteau," the third dizain, and "La Haute Banque" 
may lift my naine to the stars, higher than before. I 
begin to hâve nostalgia for my inkstand, my study, my 
proofs. That whieh caused me nausea before I came 
away novv T smiles to me. Moreover, the memory of that 
little house in Venice will give me courage ; it lias made 
me conceive that after my libération fortune will signify 
nothing ; that I shall hâve enough by writing one book a 
year, — and that I may then imite both work and happi- 
ness in that Villa Diodati on the water ! 

April 11. 
I hâve just seen severa! of the .w/as in the Pitti. Oh ! 
that portrait of Margherita Poni by Raiïaelle ! I stood 
confounded before it. Neither Titlan, nor Rubens, nor 
Tintoret, nor Velasquez — 110 brush can approach such 
perfection. I also saw the Peusiero, and 1 imderstood 
your admiration. I hâve had much pleasure in looking at 
what, two years ago, you admired. ï caught up your 
thoughts. To-morrow I am going to the Mcdici gallery, 
though I hâve not fully seen the Pitti ; I perceive that 
one ought to stay months in Florence, whereas I bave but 
hours. Economy requires that I return by Livorno, 
Qeuoa, Milan, and the Spiugeii. That is the shortest 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 399 

route in reality, though the longest to the eye ; for one 
can go from Florence to Milan in thirty-six hours ; and 
from Milan by the Splugen there are but eighty relays to 
Paris. By this route I can see Neuf châ tel, and I own I hâve 
a tender affection for the street and the courtyard where 
I had the happiness of meeting you. 1 shall go and see the 
île Saint-Pierre and the Crêt, and your house ; after which 
I shall take that route through the Val de Travers which 
seeraed to me so beautiful on my way to Neufchâtel. 

I am kept hère at the mercy of a steamboat which may 
call for me to-morrow or six days hence ; it is very irreg- 
ular. If I had not been detained for this horrible quar- 
antine in a shocking lazaretto (which I could not hâve 
imaginée! as a prison for brigands), I should hâve had 
enough time to see Florence well. I went yesterday to 
the Cascine, where you took your walks ; but the day was 
not fine. Bad weather has pursued me, everywhere it has 
snowed and rained ; but my troubles began by losing my 
travelling companion. I was to hâve had Théophile 
Gautier, that man whose mind so pleases you ; he was to 
share with me the costs of the journey and write a pen- 
dant to his u Voyage en Belgique; " but the necessity of 
doing the Exhibition, rendering an account of ail that 
spoilt canvas in the Louvre, obliged him to remain in 
Paris. Italy has lost by it ; for he is the only man capa- 
ble of comprehending lier and saying something fresh 
about her; but when I make the journey again he will 
corne. We will choose our time better. 

I hâve met Frankowski twice, once in Milan and again 
in Venice ; he will take to you my New-Year's souvenir, 
or else he will send it to you. Each time that I hâve 
seen him the acquaintance ripens. I think him a man of 
honour and high integrity. He is a Pôle of the vieille 
roche ; his sentiments are f rank. You could, that is, M. 
Hanski could do him a great service. You hâve property, 
I think, that is diflîoult to man âge, and which, until now, 



400 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

lias been badly manager! by unfaithful stewards. Well, I 
think this brave colonel does not know where to turn for 
a living. lie came to Paris to see what lie could do with 
a novel. A man must be at the end of lus hopes to land 
liimself in a foreign country where publishers are ref using 
two or three liundred manuseripts a year. He asked me 
for a letter to M. de Metternich, — as if I could do any- 
thing for bim with the prince, vdiom I never saw, as you 
know. Ilowever délicate such business is, if M. Hanski is 
thinking to send an honest man to manage his distant prop- 
erty and make it profitable, giving an lionourable share to 
liim who would bring it under cuitivation, lie might save a 
married man who, I think, despairs of his présent posi- 
tion, and would l>low his braius ont rather than fail in the 
sternest honour. In case M. Hanski should think of try- 
ing this colonel, write me a Une; I will then write to 
Frankowski to know if the place suits him ; and if he 
answers aillrmatively, I will give him a note for M. 
Hanski. Besides, the time tliis correspondeuce would 
take brings me to the period of m y visit to Polancl, and 
he could be useful to me as a guide in your country. I 
hâve a conviction that M. Hanski would do a good busi- 
ness for liimself in doing this good action. I hâve had 
means of studying the colonel; and besides, M. Hanski is 
too prudent not to study his compatriot liimself. When 
you see Frankowski, don't speak to him of the letter lie 
asked of me for Metternich, for lie asked it in a letter 
that was mad with despair, and I hâve known so well the 
despair of an honest man struggling against misfortune 
that I divined everything. I hope that this idea of mine 
may reach you in time. But, in ail such cases, one should 
alw r ays save a man of honour the terrible shock of an in- 
terest caused only by compassion. This sentiment, in me, 
is stripped of what makes it so wounding ; but others are 
not expected to know that. If ail the world knew my 
heart, of what value would be the opening of it to those J 



/837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 401 

love ? So af ter explaining ail tliis to you, you will read it 
to M. Hanski, and he will do what lie thinks proper. 
Bat. in any case, it would be better to find an honest man 
to manage his estâtes well than to sell them ; for after the 
late rise in value of the lands of Europe there is no doubt 
that those who possess them, in whatever part of Europe 
they may be, will hâve in the course of some years an 
enormous capital. 

Not knowing that I should be detained in quarantine, 
and thinking to be absent only one month, I ordered my 
letters to be kept for me; so that I am without news of 
you since the last of Eebruary. Do you know, this 
seemed so hard to me that I inquired at Geuoa if there 
was a vessel going to Odessa; they told me it took a 
month to go from Genoa to Odessa. Then I gazed into 
the sky at the point where the Ukraine must be, and I 
sent it a sorrowful farewell. At that moment I was 
capable, had it taken but twelve days to go to Odessa, 
of going to see you and not returning to Paris without 
my play. But then my debts, my obligations came 
back to my memory. What a lifeî Famé, when I hâve 
it, and if 1 hâve it, can never be a compensation for ail 
my privations and ail my sufferings! 

I saw yesterday at La Pergola, a Princess Kadziwill 
and a Princess Galitzin (who is not Sophie). There 
seem to be a good many Princesses Kadziwill and 
Galitzin! There was also a Countess Orloff, who used 
to be an actress in Paris under the name of Wentzell. 
I hoped to enjoy my dear incognito; but, as at Milan 
and at Venice, I was recognized by strangers. Also I 
met the husband of a cousin of Madame de Castries, 
and Alexandre de Périgord, son of the Duc de Dino. 
Happily, I came to Florence en polisson, as they used to 
say for the trips to Marly. J hâve neither clothes nor 
linen nor anything suitable to go into society, and so I 
préserve my dear independence. 

26 



402 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

April 13. 

I hâve seen tbe gaUery of the Mcdici, but in a burry. 
I must corne back hère if I want to study art. A letter 
from the consul at Livorno, just received, tells me there 
will be no steamer till the 20th, and I must be in Paris 
from the 20th to 25 th. So there is nothing for me to do 
but to take the mail-cart, and I leave in a few hours. 
I close m y letter, which I would like to make longer, but 
will write again at Milan, through which I pass and 
where I shall stop two days, for I go by Como and the 
Saint-Gothard. 

Adieu, cura contessina. I hope that ail is well and 
that I shall find good news of y ou in Paris. At this 
moment of writing, you ought to hâve received my little 
souvenirs, if Frankowski is a faithful man. In a few 
months I shall hâve the happiness of seeing you, and 
that hope will render life and time the easier to bear. 
Do not forget to remember me to ail, and permit your 
moujik to send you the expression — not new, but ever 
increasing in strength — of his devoted sentiments and 
tenderest thoughts. 

Paiïis, May 10, 1837. 

Hère I ara, back in Paris. My health is perfect, and 
my brain so much refreshed that it seems as though I 
had never written anything. I found three long letters 
from you which are delightful to me. I fished them out 
of the two hundred which awaited me and read them in 
the bath I took to unlimber me after m y fatiguing jour- 
ney ; and certain^, I count that hour as the most delight- 
ful of ail my trip. Before beginning my work, I am 
going to give myself the festival of a long talk with 
you. 

In the first place, cura carina, put into that beautiful 
forehead, which shines with such sublime intelligence, 
\hat I hâve blind confidence in your literary judgment, 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 403 

and tbat I make you, in tbat respect, the beiress of tbe 
angel I bave lost, and tbat wbat you write to me becomes 
tbe subject of long méditations. I now await your 
criticisms on "La Vieille Fille;" sucb as tbe dear 
conscience I once bad, wbose voice will ever ecbo in my 
ears, knew bow to make tbem; tbat is to say, read tbe 
work over and point out to me, page by page, in tbe 
most exact manner, tbe images and tbe ideas tbat dis- 
please you; telling me whether I sbould take tbem out 
wholly and replace tbem, or modify tbem. Sbow neitber 
pity nor indulgence; go boidly at it. Cara, sbould I 
not be most unwortby of tbe friendsbip you cleign to feel 
for me if in our intimate correspondence I allowed tbe 
petty vanity of an autbor to affect me? So I entreat you, 
once for ail, to suppress long eulogies. Tell me on tbree 
tones: tbat is good, tbat is fine, tbat is magnificent; you 
will tben bave a positive, comparative, and superlative, 
wbicb are so grandiose in tbeir Une tbat I blusb to offer 
tbem for your incense-pot. But tbey are still so far 
below tbe gracious praise you sometimes offer me tbat tbey 
are modest — tbougb tbey migbt seem singular to a tbird 
person. I beg you tberefore to be concise in praise and 
prolix in criticism ; wait for reflection ; do not write to 
me after tbe first reacling. If you knew bow mucb criti- 
cal genius tbere is in wbat you said to me about my play 
you would be proud of yourself. But you leave tbat 
sentiment to your friends. Yes, Plancbe bimself would 
not bave been wiser; you hâve marie me reflect so mucb 
tbat 1 am now employed in remodelling my ideas about 
it. Remember, ravina, tbat I am sincère in ail things, 
and especially in art; that I bave none of tbat paternal 
silliness wbicb ties so cruel a bandage round tbe eyes of 
many authors, and tbat if "La Vieille Fille " is bad, I 
sball hâve the courage to eut it out of my work. 

I laugbed mucb at wbat you write of tbe three beiresses 
of Warsaw, and at tbe taie you tell me, which was also 



404 Honoré de Balzac, [1837 

told and inventée! in Milan. There they rnaintained 
mordicus tbat I bad just married an immensely ricb 
beiress, tbe dangbter of a dealer in silks. Tbere is no 
absurd story of wbieb I am not made tbe bero, and I will 
amuse you beartily by teliing tbem ail to you wben I sce 
you. 

I received M. Hanski's letler tvvo days ago from tbe 
Rotbscbilds, and tbe five îmndred francs were at Bouge- 
mont de Lôwenberg's. Tbe portrait bas just been re- 
turned from tbe Exbibition. Boulanger will make tbe 
copy in a few weeks and tbe picture will soon be with 
you. You are to bave tbe original, wbieb bas bad tbe 
utmost success at tbe Salon ; many critics consider it 
among tbe best of our modem works, and it bas given 
rise to arguments wbieb must bave enebanted Boulanger. 
I am very sorry tbat tbe admirable frame I uneartbed in 
Touraine cannot adorn youi* galîery; but tbere is no use 
in opposing tbe rigours of tbe eustom-bouse. Tbe statue 
will reacb you about tbe same time. You will, I clare 
say, order a little corner closet on wbieb to place tbe 
statue, and in it you eau keep tbe enormous collection of 
manuscripts you will receive from me; so tbat, knowing 
bow T mucb you hâve of tîie man's beart, you will bave bis 
labours as well. 1 sball tben be whoby at Wierz- 
ebownia. 

Your tbree letters, read ail at once, batbed my soûl in 
tbe purest and sweetest affections, as tbe native waters 
of tbe Seine refresbed my body ; it was more to me to read 
again and again tbose pages full of your adorable little 
w T riting tban to rest myself. 

I bave made a borribly beautiful return journey; but 
it is good to bave made it. It was like our retreat 
from Iîussia. Happy be wbo bas seen tbe Beresina 
and corne out, safe and sound, upon bis legs. I 
crossed tbe Saint-Gotbard witb fifteen feet of snow 
on tbe patb I took; tbe road not even distinguisbable by 



1837] Letters to Madame HansJca. 405 

the tall stone posts which mark it. The bridges across 
the mountain torrents were no more visible than the 
torrents themselves. I came near losing my life several 
times in spite of the eleven guides who were with me. 
We crossed the summit at one o'clock in the morning by 
a sublime moonlight; and I saw the sunrise tint the 
snow. A man must see that once in his life. I came 
clown so rapidly that in half an hour I passed from 
twenty-five degrees below freezing (which it was on the 
summit) to I don't know what degree of beat in the 
valley of the Eeuss. After the horrors of the Devil's 
bridge, I crossed the Lake of the Four Cantons at four 
in the afternoon. It bas been a splendid journey; but I 
must do it again in summer, to see ail those noble sights 
under a new aspect. Y ou see that I renouncecl my pur- 
pose of going by Berne and Neufchâtel. I returned by 
Lucerne and Baie, having corne by the Ticino and Como. 
I thought that route the most economical of time and 
money, whereas, on the contrary, I spent enormously of 
both. But I had the worth of my money; it w T as indeed 
a splendid journey; my excursion bas been like a dream, 
but a dream in which presided the face of my faithful 
companion, of her of whom I hâve already told 3^011 the 
pleasure I had in seeing her, and who il kl not suffer from 
the cold [her miniature]. 

Hère I am, returned to my work. I am about to bring 
out immediately, one after the other: "César Birotteau," 
"La Femme Supérieure;" I shall finish "Illusions Per- 
dues," then u La Haute Banque," and "Les Artistes." 
After that, I shall n'y to the Ukraine, where, perhaps, I 
shall bave the happiness to write a play which wiîl end 
my fmancial agonies. Such is my plan of campaign, 
cara contessina. 



406 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

May 1 1 . 

I bave been yery egotistical. I began by speaking of 
myself, answering the first things tbat struck me in your 
letters, an cl I onght to bave said at once bow glad 1 was 
to know you relieved of tbe déplorable but sublime duty 
of nurse, vvliich you f ulfilled so eourageously and suceess- 
fully. Tbe reproaeb you make me for barsbness in a 
sentence of mine, I feel very mueb. Tbat sentence, be- 
lieve me, was only tbe expression of my désire to see you 
perfect; and perbaps tbat désire was ratber senseless, 
for it may be tbat contrasts are necessary in a cbaracter. 
But, bowever it is, I will never coniplain again, even 
wben you accuse me unjustly, reiiecting tbat an affection 
as sincère and as old as ours ean.be troubled only on tbe 
surface, 

We are going no doubt to bring ont a ncw édition of 
tbe " Etudes Pbilosopbicpies," tbe one in wbicb is "Les 
Ruggieri." I bave just re-read tbat fragment, and I see 
tbat it sbows tbe effect of tbe state of anguisb in wbicb I 
was wben I wrote it, and tbe feeblcness of a brain wbicb 
bad produced too mueb. It needs mucb retouching. I 
do not know wbat bas been tbougbt of tbat poor préface 
to a book called "Illusions Perdues." I a m going now 
to write tbe continuation and complète tbe work. 

Your monotonous life tempts me mucb; and especially 
aftei' travelling about do your taies of it plense me. I 
owe to you tbe sole TTomeric laugb I bave bad for a year, 
wben I read of your fib to tbe Countess Marie, and wben 
I read ber letter so fnll of oratorical sugarphnns. I do 
not think tbat woman true, and I really don't know bow 
to answer ber, for I am as stupid wben I bave nolbin^; 
in my beart as I often am wben my beart is full. 

May 13. 
T bave now been ai home eigbt days, and forcigbt days 
1 bave been making vain efforts to résume my work. My 



1837] Letters to Madame Hansha. 407 

head refuses to give itself to any intellectual labour; I 
feel it to be full of ideas, but nothing cornes ont. I ain 
incapable of fixing my thought; of compelling it to con- 
sicler a subject under ail aspects and deciding its march. 
I don't know wben tbis imbecility will cease; but per- 
baps it is only m y broken babit that is iu fault. Wben 
a workman drops bis tools for a time, bis band gets 
divorced. He must renew tbe fraternity that cornes 
from babit, that links tbe band to tbe tool, as tbe tool 
to tbe band. 

May 14. 
I went last nigbt to see "La Camaraderie," and I 
tbink tbe play is immensely clever. Scribe knows tbe 
business, but be does not know art ; be bas talent, but be 
will never bave genius. I met Taylor, the royal comis- 
sioner to tbe Théâtre-Français, wbo bas just brought 
from Spain, for a million francs, four bundred Spanisb 
pictures, very fine ones. In a very few minutes it was 
arranged between us that lie should undertake to bave 
accepted, rehearsed, and played a pièce of mine at the 
Théâtre-Français, witbout my uame being known until 
the time cornes to name the author; also to give me as 
many rebearsals as I want, and to spare me ail the 
annoyances which accompany the réception and repré- 
sentation of a play. Now, which shall I write? Oh! 
how many conversations with y ou I need ; for y ou are the 
only person — now that I am wiclowed of that soûl which 
uplifted, followed, strengthened my atlempts — the only 
one in wbom I bave faith. Yes, persons whose hearts 
are as noble as their birth, who bave contractée! the habit 
of noble sentiments and of things lofty in ail ways, they 
alone are my critics. Tt is now some time since I bave 
accustomed myself to tbink with you, to put you as 
second in my ideas, and you would hardly believe what 
sweetness I find in again beginning, after this travelling 
interregnum, to w r rite to you the lif e of my thought — for 



408 Honoré de Balzac, [1837 

as to that of my heart I hâve no need ; in spite of certain 
melaneholy passages, you know well that soûls high- 
poised change little. Like the summits I hâve just seen, 
the clouds may sometimes cover them, the day may light 
them variousiy; but tkeir snow remains pure and 
dazzling. 

I went yesterday to see Boulanger. The picture lias 
corne back to hiin from the Exhibition. Ile wants an- 
other three weeks to make the copy whieh I give to my 
motlier, but the canvas will start for lterditchef early in 
June, so that you will get it before the statue. 

Adieu, for to-day. I must examine my thoughts about 
the stage, and start upon a journey tlirough the dramatic 
limbo, to find ont to wbat I must give life or deafh. This 
affair is of the highest importance to my fmancial inter- 
ests, and is very serions for my réputation as a writer. 
To-morrow I will close my letter and send it. If I failed 
to write to you du ring my journey you will see by the 
frequency of m y letters that I am repairing omissions. 

May 15. 

This is the eve of my fete-day, still my poor fête-day, 
for my linancial affairs are not beauteous. The law 
about the National (iuard will oblige me to make a vio- 
lent move, — that of living in the country two leagues 
from Paris ; but this time I will live in a bouse by my- 
self. I shall thus be obliged very seriously to work my 
sixteen bours a day for three or four months ; but at 
least (if the friendly indorsements I gave to that poor 
stupid Werdet do not cause trouble) I am ail but easy in 
mind on financial matters. 

Adieu. You will receive still another letter this week. 
Many tender things to you and my remembrances to ail 
about you. I reply this week to M. Hanski. 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 409 

Paris, May 20-29, 1837. 

I write to you on rising, for this is my birthday, and I 
shall be ail day long with my sister and mother. 

Mon Dieu ! how I shonld like to hâve news of you ; but 
I am deprived of it by my own fault, for you hâve put 
the lex talionis into our correspondence by not writing to 
me when I do not write to you. But that is very wrong. 
I am a man, and subject to crises. At this moment, foi- 
instance, Werdet lias gone into bankruptcy, and I am 
summoned to pay the indorsements I gave him out of 
kindness, just as he h ad given some to me ; but with this 
différence, that I hâve paid ail the notes he endorsed for 
me, and he lias not paid those I guaranteed for him. So 
now I must work night and day to get out of the enibar- 
rassment into which I hâve put myself. 

You could never believe how crushing this last misfor- 
tune is. My business agents ail tell me now is the time 
to make a journey. 

Make a journey! — when I owe to Girardin, for the 
"Presse," u La Haute Banque" and "La Femme Supé- 
rieure ; " to the u Figaro," " César Birotteau," and " Les 
Artistes;" to Schlesinger, for the "Gazette Musicale," 
u Gambara ; " and the end of the third dizain to AVer- 
det's capitalist, — six works, ail clamoured for by the 
four persons to whom I owe them, and which represent 
fifteen thousand francs, ten thousand of which hâve 
already been paid. 

To pay my most pressing debts. I took ail the money my 
new publishers gave me, and they only begin their monthly 
payments to me when I give them two unpublished volumes 
8vo. I need at least three months to finish the six works 
named above as due, then three months for their two new 
volumes; so that hère I am for six months without re- 
sources and without any means of getting money. Hap- 
pily, the brain is in good health, thanks to my journey. 

This is a bad birthday. I hâve begun it by dismissing 



410 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

my three servants and giving up m y ap art ment in the rue 
des Batailles [Cliaillot], thougli I don't know whether the 
pi\>priet;>r will be willing to cancel the lease. And finally, 
L hâve heroically resolved to live, if neeessary, as I lived 
in the rue Lesdiguières, and to make an end to a secret 
misery whicli is dishonouring to the conscience. 

Apropos of misery ; I wrote you from Florence under 
the impression of distresses revealed by one of your coun- 
trymen. I beg you not to be vexed with me. Tell M. 
llanski tliat in vievv of wdiat lias jtiht happened to me, I 
hâve inade the good résolution never to guarantee any 
one, either linancially or morally. J beg him to regard 
ail J said about that man as not said, and, inasmuch as I 
recommcnded him through your gracions lips, J beg him 
to do nothing in his favour. Do not accuse me of care- 
lessness, but of ignorance, Later I will expiain by word 
of mouth the reason of this change. The présent makes 
me alter the past. 

May 23. 

Boulanger lias written me a very froc and easy, un- 
grateful letter. He will not make the copy lie engaged 
to make, which détresses my mother and sister. The 
packer is at tins moment making the case for the ori- 
ginal ; it leaves in a few days, and J shall address it. 
according to M. Ilanski's letter, to M M. Ilalperine, al 
Brod} T , by diligence, direct ; for neither the Eothschildî- 
nor Bougemont de L ; hvenberg are willing to take charge 
of so cumbersome a parcel, and the colour-merchant 
who is paeking- the canvas, assures me that he lias sen' 
the most valuable pictures in this wny. That 's enougl 
about my effigy. It is one of the flnest things of tlï( 
school. The most jealous painters hâve admired it. 
ara glad you will not be disappointed after waiting S( 
long. I shall write you a little îine the day I put tlu 
parcel in the diligence, and tell you the route it wib 
take. 



1837] Lettcrs to Madame Ilanska. 411 

I hâve persuadée! m y motlier to go and live two years 
in Switzerland at Lausanne. The sight of my struggle 
and that of my brother kills lier. She sees us always 
working without pecuniary resuit, and she surfers dread- 
fully without having the material conflict which calls up 
strength. 

If you knew ail I hâve doue for Boulanger you would 
feel the bitterness that fills my soûl at tins betrayal ; for 
if lie had not trifled with me for nearly a year you would 
hâve had the portrait six months ago, and it lias now 
become ridiculous. 

May 28. 

Hère I am, as you hâve often desired to see me. I 
hâve broken away from every one, and I go, in a few 
weeks, to a hidden garret, having blocked ail the roads 
aboat me. I hâve been making a récapitulation of my 
work, and I hâve enough to do for four years, without, 
even then, completing ail the séries of the "Etudes de 
Mœurs." My monk's gown must not be a lie. I hâve 
but two things which make me live : work, and the hope 
of finding ail my secret desires realized at the close of 
tliis toil. To whoever can live by those two potent ideas, 
life is still grand ; and if I do not find again in the soli- 
tude to which I return that noble Madame de Berny, 
whom my sister Laure now calls my Joséphine, at least 
she is not replaced by a Marie-Louise, but by glorious 
hope, the sole companion of a poet in travail. This jour- 
ney, in refreshing my brain, rejuvenated me, and gave 
me back my force ; I need it to accomplish my last 
efforts. 

I hâve just fmished a work which is called " Massimilla 
Doni," the scène of which is in Venice. If I can realize 
ail my ideas as they présent themselves in my brain it 
will be, assuredly, a book as startling as "La Peau de 
Chagrin," better written, more poetic possibly. I will 
not tell you anything about it. " Massimilla Doni " 



412 Honore de Balzac. [\sii7 

and "Gambara" are, in tïie "Etudes Philosophiques," 
the apparition of Music, under the double forai of éxecu- 
tion and composition, subjected to the saine trial as 
Thought in t4 Louis Lambert: " that is to say, the work 
a'id its exécution are killed by the too great abundanee of 
the créative prineiple, — that which dietated to me the 
lt Chef-d'œuvre inconnu" in respect to painting ; a study 
winch J rewrote last winter. You will soon receive two 
Parts of the •'■ Etudes Philosophiques " in wliich the work 
lias been tremendons. 

I hâve just flnished a littîe study, enlitled " Le Martyr 
calviniste," wliich with t4 Le Secret des Puggieri" and 
lt Les Deux Eoves " complètes my study of the character 
of Catherine de' JMedici. J hâve begun to write Cfc La 
Femme Supérieure " for the u Presse," and in a few days I 
shall hâve finished " César Birotteau." Ail this in manu- 
script only ; for, after composition, cornes the battle of 
the proofs. You see that my ideas for the stage are 
again drowned in the flood of my obligations and my 
otlier work. 

As soon as the above manuseritds are donc I shall go 
into P>erry, to Madame Carraud, and there finish the third 
dizain, begun alas ! in Geneva and dated from Eaux- 
Vives and the dear Pré-1'Eveque ! 

It is now two years since I saw you. So, when my 
head refuses ideas, when the ink-pot of my brain is empty, 
and I must hâve rest, by that time I hope I shall hâve 
bought, through privations, the necessary sum for a jour- 
ney to Poland and to see Wierzchownia this autumn. 
God grant that I tlien hâve a mind free of ail care, and 
that I complète between now and then the books that are 
to liberate me! ITappily, except for a few sums, it is 
only a question of blackening paper, and that, fortunately, 
is in my own power. I am anxious to finish the two other 
volumes which, under the titîe of " Un Grand homme de 
Province à Paris " is to complète u Illusions Perdues" 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 413 

of which the introduction alone has appeared. That is, 
certainly, with " César Birotteau," my greatest work in 
dimensions. 

May 29. 

From the way I bave started I hope to finish "La 
Femme Supérieure " in four days. I am stirred by a 
species of fur}? to finish the work s for which I bave al- 
ready received the money. I live before my table; I 
leave it only to sleep ; I dine there. Never did poet stay 
thus in a moral world ; but yesterday some one told me 
I was said to be in Germany. I hope that the ridiculous 
stories spread about me will cease in conséquence of the 
absolute seclusion in which I am about to live. At any 
rate, the commercial proceedings instituted against me by 
Werdet's creditors will hâve tins good effect, that, being 
drive n to hide myself, no one can gossip about me. But 
they will make fantastic taies about my disappearance ! 

I entreat you not to forget my request relative to cor- 
rections of u La Vieille Fille " and, in gênerai, to ail you 
find faulty in my works. I hâve none but you in the 
world to do me this friend's service. Be curt in your 
verdicts. Wlien there was something very bad Madame 
de Berny never discussed ; she wrote, "Bad" or, 
"Passage to be rewritten." Be, I pray you, my dear 
star and my literary conscience, as you are in so many 
other things my guide and my counsellor. You hâve a 
sure taste ; you hâve the habit of comparison, because 
you read everything. This will be, moreover, an occupa- 
tion in your désert. 

Alas ! I can only talk to you about myself. I am now 
without letters from you, delivered over to ail sorts of 
anxieties, because I had the misfortune, in travelling, to 
leave you a month in silence, — though I wrote to you from 
Sion in the Valais, and expected to find an answer in 
Milan on my return from Florence. I hâve written to 
Milan, to Prince Porcia, to forward your letter hère. 



414 Honore de Balzac. [18S7 

Ilave tlie kindness to write to Madame Jeroslas . . . 
that I ean more easily go four months lience and lay my 
bornage at lier feet than write lier a letter at this moment. 
Seriously, I go to bed with a tired liaud. I will send you 
a page for lier in my îiext letter, tkough 1 shall not 
write you till I can announee tlie termlnation of ^ César 
lMrotteau" and fck La Femme Supérieure, 7 ' tlie two great 
tiiorns I bave in my foot at tins moment. The third 
dizain may amuse me perhaps at Frapesle, Madame 
Carraud's bouse, where I shall live ten days among tlie 
flowers, well eared for by lier, who is like a sister to me. 
She is very délicate, very feeble; sbe will go, too, I fore- 
see it, that fine and noble intellect; and of tlie tkree truîy 
grand woinen whom I bave known, you aione will remain. 
Such friendsbips are not renewed, cura. Therefore, mine 
for you grows greater from ail my losses, and, I dare to 
say it, from ali tlie illusions that expérience mows down 
like the flowers of the field. Ail my récent griefs, that 
ignoble little treachery of Boulanger, tins présent mis- 
fortune due to my attachaient to the weak, ail thèse things 
cast me with greater force to you, in whom I believe as 
in God, to whom the troubles of earth drive us back. 
There are affections that are like great ri vers ; ail tlows 
into them. 80 the longer I live, the more the river mycIïs ; 
the sea into wliich it casts itseif is death. 

I hope that ail goes well with you, and that M. Ilanski 
will be so kind as not to be vexed witli me if I do not 
answer bis gracions letter; I am so hurried ! Tell him ail 
that I would say to him ; passing through such an inter- 
préter that which I should write to him will be bettcred. 
Take great care of yourself ; after the long night-nursing 
you bave borne, I tremble lest you should be ill ; if that 
should happen, in Glod's name let me know ; I must go 
and nurse you. 

Adieu. I wish you good health, and Anna also. If 
my theory on buman forces is truc, you ought to live in 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 415 

the atmosphère that my soûl makes for you by surround- 
ing you with sacred wishes. Would that it were like the 
thorny hedges placed about private fields, that cattle may 
neither feed nortrample there. I would that I could thns 
drive off ail griefs, ail disappointments, ail that herd of 
worries, pain, aiul maladies. To you, who give me sueh 
strength, would I could return it ! 

Paris, May 31, 1837. 

I h ave this instant reeeived y ours (number 28) of the 
12th, writteii after you reeeived the one 1 wrote you from 
Florence. But did you not receive one from Sion? which 
I do not, however, count as a letter, for there were only 
fifteen lines on a page. It is clear that some one kept 
the money for the postage, and read, or burned the letter. 
Mon Dieu ! how r vexed I am ! I stopped at Sion expressly 
to write it. You ought to hâve reeeived it early in 
Mardi. Let us say no more about it. 

I admire the capacity of your intelligence in regard to 
the person about whom I w T rote you from Florence. The 
reasons that struck your mind struck mine later. But 
your letter grieves me. Such profound sadness reigns 
tlirough the religions ideas it expresses. It seems as 
though you had lost ail hope on earth. You ask me to 
make you confidences as I would to my best friend; but 
hâve I not told you ail my life? I hâve often confided 
too much of my anguish to you, for it did you harm. 

This letter cornes to me at a bad moment. It has sin- 
gularly added to the dumb grief that gnaws me and will kill 
me. I am thirty-eight years old, still crippled by debt, 
with nought but uncertainty as to my position. Scarcely 
hâve I taken two montas to rest my brain before I repent 
them as a crime wiien I see the eviis that hâve corne 
through my inaction. This precarious life, which might 
be a spur in youth, beeomes at my âge an overwhelming 
burden. ]\Iy head is turning white, and whatever pleasant 



-'"H) Honoré de, Balzac. [1837 

things may Le said about it, it is clear that I must soon 
)ose ail liope of pleasing. Pure, tranquil, openly avowed 
happiness, for which I was made, cscapes me ; I Lave 
only tortures and vexations, through which a few rare 
gleams of blue sky sliine. 

My works are little understood and little appreeiated ; 
they serve to enrich Belgium, but they leave me in 
poverty. The only friend who came to me at my start in 
life, who was to me a true mother, lias gone to heaven. 
And you, you write me tliere are as many ideas as there 
is distance between us, and you dissuade me from going 
to see you ! 

Your letter lias doue me greatharm. Believe me, tliere 
is a certain measure of religious ideas beyond which ail 
is vicions. You know what my religion is. I am not 
orthodox, and I do not believe in the Roman Cliurch. I 
think that if tliere is a scheme worthy of our kind it is 
that of human transformations causing the hum an being 
to advance toward unknown zones. That is the law of 
créations inferior to onrselves ; it ought to be the law of 
superior créations. Swedenborgianism, which is only a 
répétition in the Christian sensé of ancien t ideas, is my 
religion, with the addition which I make to it of the in- 
comprehensibility of Cod. That said (and I say it to 
you because I know you to be so truly Roman Catholic 
that nothing can influence your mind about it), I must 
surely see more clearly than you see it what }'our de- 
tachment from ail tliings hère below conceals, and déplore 
it if it rests on false ideas. To comfort myself as to this, 
I hâve read over a letter in which you told me you wished 
to be always yourself, to showyourself — in your hours of 
melancholy, of piety, and of spring-tide returns. 

June 1. 

Your letter lias left long traces upon me, and I can 
scarcely say what impressions ï hâve had on reading the 



1837] -Letter s to Madame Hanska. 417 

part where y ou separate your readings into profane and 
religions. There is a whole world between your last but 
one letter and this letter. You hâve taken tbe veil. I 
am deathly sad. 

June 2. 

I bave begun u La Femme Supérieure " in a m armer tbat 
promised to finish it in four days, and now it is impossible 
for me to write a line. My faculties seem unstrung. I 
had made my mother décide on spending two years in 
Switzerland to spare lier the sight of my struggle, the 
triumph of which I placed at that date. But she is now 
ill. Two nephews to bring up, my mother to support, 
and my work insufficient ! — that is one of the aspects 
of my life. Continuai injustice, constant calumny, the 
betrayal of friencls, that is another. 1 The embarrassments 
into which Werdet's failure flung me, and my new treaty 
which keeps me in a state of extrême poverty, that is a 
third. The literary diffîculties of what I do and the con- 
tinuity of toil, that is another. I am worn-out on the foui- 
faces of the square by an equal pressure of trouble. If 
my soûl flnds the ivory door through which it flees into 
lands of illusion, dreams of happiness, closed, what will 
become of it ? Solitude, farewell to the world? It is 
sorrowful for those who live by the heart to hâve no life 
possible but that of the brain. 

When you receive this letter Boulanger's portrait will be 
on its way to you ; it was packed this week. I wished to 
hâve it rolled, but the colour-dealer and a picture-restorer 
whom I consulted assured me it wouid go safely in a 
square box the size of the picture. You will hâve a fine 
work, so several painters say. The eyes especially are 
well rendered, but more in the gênerai physical expression 
of the worker than with the loving soûl of the inclividual. 
Boulanger saw the writer, and not the tenderness of the 
imbécile always taken-in, not the softness of the man 
1 See Memoir, pp. 231, 232, 329. — Tr. 
27 



418 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

before the sufferings of others, which made ail my miscries 
corne from holding out a helping hand to weaklings in the 
rut of iil-luck. In order to do a service in 1827 to a work- 
ingprinter, I found myself, in 1829, crushed down under 
h debt of one hundred and fifty thousand francs and 
cast, without bread, into a garret. In 1833, just as my 
pen wus giving signs of enabling me to clear my obliga- 
tions, I connected myself with Werdet ; I wanted to 
make him my only publihher, and in my désire to make 
him prosper, 1 signed engagements, so that in 1837, 
I find myself again with a hundred and fifty thousand 
francs of debt, and on that account so threatened with 
arrest that I am obligée! to live in hiding. 1 make my- 
self, as I go along, the Don Quixote of the feeble ; I 
wanted to give courage to Sandeau, and I dropped upon 
that head four or five thousand francs that would hâve 
saved another raan! I need a barrier between the world 
and me ; I must content myself w T ith prodneing without 
spending; I must shut myself np within a narrow circle, 
under pain of succumbing. 

June 5. 

Yesterday I sent aw T ay my three servants ; Auguste, 
whom you hâve seen, remains, on a salary that my new 
publishers, the printers, and I pay. Ile w T ill carry proofs. 
I am trying to get rid of my apartment rue des Batailles; 
that of rue Cassini is paid up, and the lease ends October 
1 of this year. I must résume the life I led in the rue 
Lesdiguières : live on little, and work always. Alas î I 
need a family ! Perhaps I will go and settle in some 
village in Tonraine. A garret in Paris is still dangerous. 

I hâve seven years' w r ork before me, coimting three 
w r orks a year like the " Lys," and I shall be forty-five 
wiien the principal lines of my work are defined and 
the portions very nearly filled in. At forty-five one is 
no longer young, in form at least; one must, to préserve 
a few fine days, plunge iiito tha ice of complète solitude. 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 419 

My mind is not tranquil enough to write for the stage. 
A play is the easiest and the most difficult work for the 
humaii mind ; either it is a German toy, or an immortal 
statue, Polichinello or Venus, the " Misanthrope " or 
" Figaro." The misérable melodramas of Hugo frighten 
me. I need a whole winter at Wierzchownia to adjust a 
play, and I hâve four months of crushing work to clo 
before I can know if I shall bave the money, and when 
and how I shall hâve it, to enable me to go there. 

Perhaps I shall take one of those sublime resolutions 
winch turn life inside out like a glove. That is very 
possible. Perhaps I shall leave literature, to enrich my- 
selfj and take it up later if it suits me to do so ; I bave 
been reflecting about tins for some days past. 

Are you not tired of hearing me ring my song on every 
key? Does not this continuai egotistery of a man fighting 
forever in a narrow circle bore you? Say so, because in 
your letter you seemed disposed to turn away from me, 
as from a beggar who knows nothing but the Pater, and 
says it over and over again. 

Cara, I hold Florence to be a great lacly, a glorious 
city, where we breathe the middle âges ; but, as I told 
you, Venice and Switzerland are two conceptions which 
resemble nothing. I hâve not dared to say any harm to 
you of your bust, because it gave me too much joy to see 
it. As for the mouth, do not complain of Bartolini; he 
lias made it beautiful and true. Your mouth is one of 
the sweetest créations I hâve ever seen ; in the bust it 
has, certainly, the expression your aunt and others 
blâme ; but that is only on the surface of the thing. 
Without your mouth, the forehead would be hydro- 
cephalous. There is an exact balance in the two, between 
sensations and ideas, between the heart and the brain; 
there is, above ail, in the expression thus blamed, an 
extrême nobility and infinité sweetness, two attributes 
which render 3^011 adorable to those who know you well, 



420 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

No one lias analyzed your head and face more than T. 
The last time that I could study you, and bave enough 
coolness to do so, was in Datîinger's studio [in Vienna], 
and it was only there that I deteeted on your lips a few 
faint signs of cruel passion. Do not be astonished at 
those two words: it is such indications that give to 
your mouth the expression those ladies complain of; 
but such évidences are repressed by goodness. You 
hâve something violent in your fîrst impulse, but retiec- 
tion, kindness, gentleness, nobleness, folio w instantly. 
I do not regard tiiis as a defect. The first impulse lias 
its cause, and I will tell it to you in your chimney-corner 
at Wierzchownia, if you think to ask me ; and I will give 
you proofs of what I say about you, examples takeu from 
wliat I saw you do in Vienna — in the affair of the letter, 
for instance, which was written under one such impulse. 
If you were exclusively good you would be a sheep — 
which is too insipid. 

Well, adieu, cara ; a thousancl tender regards, quand 
même ; for 1 hâve long since takeu, with regard to you, 
the motto of the friends of the throne. ALmy prettinesses 
to the pretty Anna for lier thought and for herself. I 
shall write tins week to M. Ilanski. 

Paiîis, Jnly 8, 1887. 

I just receive your number 21), in which there is an 
" at last ! " whicli makes me tremble, dear, for it is now 
nearîy a month since I wrote to you. 

Tiie explanation of ray silence is in ct La Femme Supé- 
rieure," which fUls seventy-five columns of the " Presse " 
and which was written in a month, day by day. I sat 
up thirty nights of that damned month, and I don't be- 
lieve that I slept more than sixty-odd hours in the 
course of it; I never had time to tri m my beard, and I, 
the enemy of ail affectation, now wear the goat's beard 
of La Jeune France. After writing tliis letter J must 
take a bath, not without terror, for J ani afraid of relax- 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 421 

ing the fibres which are strung up to the highest tension ; 
and I must begin again on fct Cisar Birotteau," which is 
growing ridiculous on account of its delays. Besides, it 
is now ten months since the ct Figaro" paid me for it. 

Nothing can express to you the sweeping onward of 
sueh m ad work. . At any priée I must hâve my freedom 
of mind, for, another year of this life, and I shali die at 
my oar. I hâve doue daring this month, u Les Martyrs 
ignorés" " Massiiniila Doni," and "Gambara." When 
I hâve finished " César Birotteau" I must then do u La 
Maison Nucingen et Compagnie " and another book, which 
will bring me to the end of thèse miseries that give me so 
much toil and no money. I found time to see about the 
packing of that portrait, which you will surely hâve, I 
think, before this letter reaches you. 

The long delay of your number 29 lias added to ail my 
troubles the fear of some illness in your home ; you can- 
not think what anxiety that puts into my mind. And I 
fear so much lest some breath of poisoned slander, some 
calumny may reach you, lest the sorrows of my life 
may hâve wearied you, that the failure of your letters 
puts me in a fever. 

I will not talk to you again of the difficulties of m'y life, 
for the aftair you know of lias rendered them enormous 
and insurmountable. While I work night and day to free 
my pen, my new publishers give me nothing until I work 
for them ; so that I must run in debt, and ail my money 
worries will begin again. Werdet's failure lias killed me. 
T imprudently indorsed for hiin, I was sued, and I was 
forced to hide and défend myself. The men whose cluty 
it is to arrest debtors discovered me, thanks to treachery, 
and I had tlxe pain of compromising the persons who h ad 
generously given me an asylum. It was necessary, in 
order not to go to prison, to find the money for the 
Werdet clebt at once, and, consequently, to involve my- 
self again to those who lent it to me. 



±'ï'l Honoré de Balztu , [18^7 

Such a little épisode in thc mklst of m y toil I 

1 vvill no longer wring your heurt with the détails of 
m y struggle. Besides, it would take volumes to tell you 
ail of them and explaiii tliem. The truth is, I do not 
iive. Ahvaystoil! I cannot support tins life for more 
thau three or four montlis at a tinie. I hâve still forty- 
tive days more of it ; after that I shall be utterly lîroken 
clown, and tlien I will go and revive in tlie solitude of the 
Ukraine, if God permits it. I hope to last tiil the end of 
Li César Birotteau." 

" La Femme Supérieure " makes two thiek <Svo volumes. 
It is ended in the newspaper, Imt not in the book form; I 
am aclding a fourth Part. 

1 wish I had strength enough t;> give the end of u Illu- 
sions Perdues." But that is very dillicult ; though very 
urgent, because my payment of lifteen hundred francs a 
month does not begin till then. 

Not oniy hâve I not eiosed the gulf of sorrows, but I 
hâve not closed that of my business affairs. 1 hâve 
hoped so oftcn that I am weary of hope, as I told you. 
I am a prey to deep disgust, and I shut myself up in com- 
plète solitude. Nevertheless, a grand affair is preparing 
for me in the publication of my works, with vignettes, 
etc., resting upon an enterprise both inciting and attrac- 
tive to the public. This is an intorest in a tontine, created 
from a portion of the profit of suhscribers, who are di- 
vided into classes and âges; one to ton, ten to twenty, 
twenty to thirty, thirty to forty, forty to fifty, fifty to sixty, 
sixty to seventy, sevcnty to eighty. So, the subscriber 
will obtain a inagnilicent volume, as to typographie exécu- 
tion, and the chance of thirty thousand francs income for 
having subscribed. Aîso the capital of che income will 
remain to the subscriber's family. 

It is very fine; but it needs three thousand subscribers 
per class to make it praeticable. But imagine that, in 
spite of thc ardour of my imagination, l hâve received 



so 



1837] Letters to Madame Ilanska. 423 

many blows that I sliall see this project played with an 
indiffèrent eye. An enormous sum is required for adver- 
tising ; and four hundred thousand francs for the vignettes 
alone. The work will be in iifty volumes, published in 
demi- vol urnes. It will inclucle the u Etudes de Mœurs " 
complète, the "Etudes Philosophiques" complète, and 
the "Etudes Analytiques" complète, under the gênerai 
title of " Etudes Sociales." In four years the whole will 
hâve been published. The vignettes will be in the text 
itself, and there will be seventy-five in a volume, which 
will prevent ail piracy in foreign countries. 

But this dépends still on several administrative points 
to settle. May fate grant it success! It is high time. 
I feel that a few days more like the last, and I am 
vanquished. 

I, who know so amply what misfortune is, I cry to you 
from the depths of my study, enjoy the material good 
that M. Hanski bestows upon you, and which you justly 
boast of to me. I wish with ail the power of my soûl that 
you may never know such miseries as mine. 

If this affair takes place, and taking place, succeeds, 
you shall be the fîrst informed of it ; and never letter more 
joyous will rush through Europe ! But I hâve reached 
the point of very great doubt in ail business affairs. 

You will sorae clay read "La Femme Supérieure," and 
if ever I needed a serious and sincère opinion upon a com- 
position, it is on this. Twenty letters of réprobation 
reach the newspaper daily, from persons who stop their 
subscriptions, etc., saying that nothing could be more 
wearisome, it is ail insipid gabbling, etc. ; and they send 
me thèse letters! There is one, among others, from a 
man who cails himself my great admirer, which says that 
" he cannot conceive the stupidity of such a composition." 
If that is so, I must hâve been heavily mistaken. 

This distrust, into which such communications throw an 
author, is little propitious to astarton " César Birotteau " 



424 lloii'jrê de Balzac. [1837 

which I make to-dny and must push with the greatest 
celeriiy. I bave robbed you of the manuscript and proofs 
of " La Femme Supérieure" to the profit of my cane 
sorella, who lias noue of thèse things, and who, on see- 
ing the bound proofs brought home to me for you, said, 
in a melaneholy tone, " Am I ne ver to hâve any of the m 
myself ? " S y I thought to giveher those of " La Femme 
Supérieure ; " I wiil keep those of the reprints for you. 

On coming ont of my painfui labour of forty-five days, 
I hâve reiigiousiy put your dear Anna's hcart\s-ease into 
niv " Imitation of Jésus Christ," where there is another 
on a fragment of a yellow sash. 

What events, what thoughts hâve passed beneath 
heaven's arch in seven years ! and what terror must one 
feel as one sees one's self advancing ever, with no lull in 
t!ie storm ! One must not think of happy fancies pietnred 
on the horizon, especially when the soûl is ever in 
mourning. 

I send you a thousand earessi ng desires ; I would that 
you had ail the happiness that fiées from me. I see but 
t)o well that my life can never be other than a life of 
toil, and that X must place my pleasurc there, in the oc- 
cupation by which \ live. And yet, when my pen is free, 
two or three months lience, I shall once more tempt 
fortune ; I shall make a last effort. But if I do so, it is 
because there is no risk of money. After that, if nothing 
cornes of it, T shall retire into some corner, to live there 
like a country curate without parishioners, indiffèrent to 
ail material interests, and resting on my heart and my 
imagination, — those two great motive powers of life. 
This is only telling you that you count for more than 
half in that vision. 

I did not finish cc Berthe la Repentie" without thinking 
at every line that I began it with fury at Pré-1'Eveque in 
18:"Î4, now nearly four years ago. T ought never to hâve 
had debts ; I ought to hâve lived like a canon in the 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 425 

Ukraine, having no other f miction than to drive away your 
blue devils and those ef M. Hanski and write a dizain 
every year. 'T would hâve been too beautiful a life. 
Between repose and me there are twelve thousand ducats 
of debt, and the farther I go, the more they increase. 
Chateaubriand is dying of hunger. He sold bis past as 
author, and he lias sold his future. The future gives 
him twelve thousand francs a year, so long as he pub- 
lishes nothing ; twenty-live thousand if lie publishes. That 
to him is poverty ; lie is seventy-five years old, an âge at 
which ail genius is extinct, but the memories of youth re- 
flower. That is hovv we love — the first time in reality, 
the second time in memory. 

Addio, cara. I must leave you to take up my dizain and 
' ' César Birotteau " alternately. I would give I know 
not what, ail, except our dear friendship, to hâve finished 
those two works which will bring me in nothing but 
insults. 

I think it surprising that you liad not reeeived my New 
Year's gift in June, for Colonel Frankowski has been in 
Poland three months. Put a kiss on Anna's forehead 
from lier horse, the quietest she will ever bave in lier 
stables. Remember me to ail about you and to M. 
Hanski. I send nothing to you who possess the whole of 
this Parisian moujik. 

I conceived yesterday a work grand in its thought, 
small in its volume ; it is a book I shall do immediately. 
It will be called by some man's name, such as " Jules, or 
the new Abeilard." The subject will be the letters of 
two lovers led to the religious life by love, a true heroic 
romance à la Scudéry. 

Taeis, July, 19, 1837. 

Cara, you will end by being so weary of my jeremiads 
that when you receive a letter from me you will fling it 
into the fire without opening it, certain that it is a garret- 
ful of blue devils and the amplest stock of melancholy in 



42G Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

tbe world. If m y fat and daring countenance is at this 
moment installed before you, you will never behold my 
griefs on that swelling forehcad — less ample, less beauti- 
ful than yours — nor on those rotund eheeks of a lazy 
monk. But so it is. Ile who was created for pleasure 
and happy carelessness, for love and for luxury, works 
like a galley-slave. 

I was talking to Heine yesterday about writing for the 
stage. u ])ewiire of that," lie said; " lie who is accus- 
tomed to Brest eannot accustoin himself to Toulon. 8 ta y 
in your own galley." 

I am the lighter by tliree works : liere is tbe third 
dizain doue in nianuseript, but not in proofs ; hère is 
"(iambara" finished, and I ain at the last proof of 
u Massimilla Doni ; " and finally, in three days I shall 
begin the end of " César Birotteau." I hope the wood- 
mau b rings down trees ; I hope the workman is no bungler. 
But I am always meeting worthy people, Parisians, who 
say to me, u Why don't you publish sometliing ? " Yes- 
terday, after leaving Heine, I met Rothschild on the 
boulevard, that is to say, ail the wit and money of the 
Jews; and lie said to me, " What are you doing now?" 
4 c La Femme Supérieure " lias been inundating the 
4i Presse " for the last fortnight ! 

Gara, you talk to me still of my dissipation, my travels, 
and society. That is wrong in you. I travel when 
it is impossible to rouse my broken-down brain. When I 
return, I shut myself up and work night and day until 
death cornes — of the brain, be it understood, thougli a 
m an may die of work. I did wrong not to go to the 
Ukraine, but I am the first punished ; that wrong was 
caused by my poverty. But I hâve just discovered an 
economical means of conveyance which I sliaîl use as soon 
as I am free. It is to go from liere to Havre, Havre to 
Hamburg, Hamburg to Berlin, Berlin to Breslau, Breslau 
to Lemberg, Lemberg to Brody. I think that route will 



1837] Letter s to Madame Hansïca. 427 

not be dear, as so much is doue by water. From Paris 
to Hamburg, four days, is two hundred francs, everything 
included. Only, will you corne and fetch me at Brody, 
Avhere I shall be without a vehicle and ignorant of the 
langnage? That is the project I ara caressing; and it 
makes me hasten my work. 

There is nothing new about the grand affair of my 
publication on the tontine plan. But the petty newspapers 
are already laughing at this enterprise, which they know 
nothing about, and solely because it makes to my profit. 

Is not this singular? I was just hère when Auguste 
brought me your kind and very amiable number 30 — in 
the sensé that there is an adorable number of pages. In 
the first place, cara, I see that you are not speaking to 
me with a frank lie art in fearing that your letter would be 
flung clown with disdain ! and you came near using a 
worse word. Ali! hâve we never understood each other? 
Ilave you no idea of friendship, — no knowleclge of true 
sentiments? It must be so, if you can imagine I am 
not more interested in your missing book and ail that 
happens around you than I am in the finest or the most 
hideous events of the world. I am so angry, so shaken 
}>y that passage in your letter that my hand trembles as 
if I had killed my neighbour. It is you who hâve killed 
something in me. But you can revive it by ponring ont 
to me without fear your rêveries. Next, you tell me that 
I am hiding from you some gambling loss, some disaster, 
and that I am a poor head fmancially. 

Dear and beautiful châtelaine, you talk of poverty like 
one who does not know it and who never will know it. 
The unfortunate are alwaj 7 s wrong, because they begin 
by being unfortunate. 

Must I for the fifth or sixth time explain to you the 
mechanism of my poverty, and how it is that it only 
grows and increases? I will do so, if only to prove to 
you that I am the greatest financier of the epoch. But 



428 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

we will never relurn to the subject again, will we? — for 
there is nothing sadder than to relate troubles from wdiieh 
we still suff er : — 

In 1828 I was flung into this poor rue Cassini, when 
my family would not even give me bread, in conséquence 
of a liquidation to whieh they compelled me, owing one 
hundred thousand francs and being without a penny. 
There, then, was a man who had to hâve six thousand 
francs to pay his iuterests, and tbree thousand francs on 
which to live ; total, nine thousand francs a year. Now, 
during the years 1828, 1829, and 1830 I did not earn 
more than three thousand francs, for M. de Latouche paid 
only one thousand for "Les Chouans; 15 the publisher 
Marne failed and paid me only seven hundred and fifty 
francs, instead of flfteen hundred, for the " Scènes de la 
Vie privée;" the " Physiologie du Mariage " brought me 
only one thousand francs, through the bad faith of the 
publisher ; and M. de Girardin paid me only fifty francs a 
feuille [1G pages] in his paper " La Mode." Tlius in the 
course of three years my debt was increased by twenty- 
four thousand francs. 

1830 came ; gênerai disaster to the publishing business. 
l 'L{i Peau de Chagrin" paid me only seven hundred 
francs; three thousand later by adding the "Contes 
Philosophiques" to it. Then the "Revue de Paris" 
took ten feuilles a year, at one hundred and sixty francs : 
total, sixteen hundred francs. So 1830 and 1831 together 
gave me only ten thousand francs; but I had to pay 
eighteen thousand francs for interest and my living. 
Thus I increased the debt by eight thousand francs. 
The capital of the debt then amounted to one hundred 
and thirty-two thousand francs. 

1833 came; and then by making my agreement with 
Madame Bcchet I found myself equal to my living and 
my debt ; that is to say, I could live and pay my interest ; 
because from 1833 to 1836 ï earned ten thousand francs 



1837] Lctters to Madame Hansha. 429 

a year; I then owed six thousand two hundred francs 
interest, and I supposed I could live on four thousand 
francs. But, at this moment of success, new disasters 
came. 

A man who lias only his peu, and who must meet ten 
thousand francs a year when lie does not hâve them, is 
compelled to many sacrifices. It was soon, not one 
hundred and thirty-two thousand francs that I owed, but 
one hundred and forty thousand, for how did I flght the 
necessity that pressed upon me? With an aide-de-camp 
who may be compared to the vulture of Prometheus 
[Werdet]; with usurers who made me pay nine, ten, 
twelve, twenty per cent interest, and who consumée! in 
applications, proceedings, and errands fifty per cent and 
more of my time. Moreover, I had signecl agreements 
with publishers who had advanced me money on work 
to be done; so that when I signed the Bêchet agreement 
I had to deduct from the thirty thousand francs she was 
to pay me for the first twelve volumes of the " Etudes 
de Mœurs " ten thousand francs to indemnify Gosselin 
and two other publishers. So it was not thirty thou- 
sand, but twenty thousand francs only ; and those twenty 
thousand are reduced to ten thousand by a loes I hâve 
lately met with, of copies that were worth that sum. 
The fire in the rue du Pot-de-Fer consumed the volumes I 
bought back from Gosselin. 

So my position in 1837 exactly corresponds with thèse 
facts, when it places me with one hundred and sixty-two 
thousand francs of debt; for ail that I hâve earned has 
ne ver covered interests and expenses. My expenditure in 
luxury, for which you sometimes blâme me, is produced 
by two necessities. First : when a man works as I do, 
and his time is worth to him twenty to fifty francs an 
hour, lie needs a carnage, for a carnage is an economy. 
Then he must hâve lights ail night, coffee at ail hours, much 
fire, and everything orderly about him ; it is that which 



430 Honoré de Balzac. [îsa; 

constitutes the eostly life of Paris. Second: in Paris, 
tliose wlio specuhite in l'iteriiture hâve no other thought 
than to extort from it. If I luid stayed in a garret 1 
should hâve earned nothing. Tliis is what ruins the men 
of letters in Paris, — Karr, Gosian, etc. TJiey are needy, 
and it is known ; publishers pay them tlve hnndred francs 
for what is worth three thousand. J therefore considered 
it good business to exhibit an exterior of fortune, so as 
not to be bargained with and to iix my own priée. 

If you do not regard with admiration a nian wlio, 
bearing the weight of such a debt, writing with one hand, 
iighting with the other, ne car vont mitting a baseness, 
cringing to no usurer, nor to journalisin, imploring no 
inan, neither his créditer nor bis friend, never tottering 
in the most suspicions, most seiiish, most miserly country 
in the world, where they lend to the rich only, — a man 
whom calnmny lias pursued and is still pursuing, a man 
who they said was in Sainte Pélagie when lie was with 
you in Yieima, — then you know nothing of the world ! l 

1 For a fuller underst inding of tins, I refcr t\\ n reader to his sister's 
aecount of his peeuniary trials, and to a brief sfatemcnt of the then 
existing System of literary payments, whieh will be found in my 
" Memoir of Balzac," pp. 70, 71, 81, 8'.), 90, 158-1 f>0. It is possible tliat 
had Balzac h< <>v auother mai) lie might hâve rid himself of his incubus 
of debt — tbough it is difrUailt to say how a young man owing 100.0(10 
francs and f> por cent interest on them, without one penny to pay either 
d(d)t or interest, conld hâve donc so. But the question hère is : Could 
the man whose business it v> r as to knowmen live apart from their live^, 
a beggar in a jarret? Tan the gcnins whose mission it was to grasp 
the whole of human societv be jndged in his business methods lihe a 
cii-y bankcr ? Edmond Werdet, t]\c publislier, wlio said lie suffered 
throngh 1ns publication of P>alzac's works, and wlio, nin^ years aftcr 
his deatli, wrote a book u]>on him partly for revende (" Portrait intime 
de Balzac, sa vie, son humour, et son caractère." 1 vol., Paris, 1859), 
hrougbt no charge again^t himof want of probity, or of failure to keep 
his money engagements. On the contrary, hesaysin one place : "Ile 
was an honest man ; an bonest man in debt, not a business man in 
debt. as M. 'Faine bas said of him." In another place lie pays : " Balzac 
luid his abhurditie^ if you will, bnt lie was exempt from vices,"—- Tu, 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 431 

The enterprise of tlie "Chronique de Paris" was 
undertaken to play a bold stroke and pay on° my debt. 
Instead of winning, I lost. 

It was a horrible reverse. 

And in the midst of this hell of conflicting interests, 
of days without bread, of friends who betrayed me, of 
jealousies that tried to injure me, I h ad to write cease- 
lessly, to think, to toil ; to hâve droll ideas when I wept, 
to write of love with a heart bleeding from inward wounds, 
with searce a hope on the horizon — and that hope re- 
proachful, and asking from a knight brought back from 
the battle, w r here and why he was wounded. 

Co.ro, do not condemn in the midst of this long torture 
the poor struggler who seeks a corner where to sit down 
and recover breath, where to breathe the sweet air of the 
shore and not the dusty air of the arena ; do not blâme 
me for having spent a few misérable thousand francs in 
going to Neufchâtei, Geneva, Vienna, and twice to Italy. 
(You clo not comprehend Italy ; in that you are dull, and 
I will tell you why.) Do not blâme me for going to spend 
two or three months near you; for without thèse halts I 
should be dead. 

Imprint this very succinct explanation in your beauti- 
fui and noble, pure, sublime head, and never return to 
thèse ideas that I gamble, etc. ; for I hâve never gambled, 
never had any other disasters than those into which 
my own kindnéss dragged me. 

Alas ! I thought my pious offering for the new year 
had reached your hands ; for allow me the intoxicating 
pleasure of thinking that what I give you caused 
me a little privation. It is in that way that poverty 
can equal riches. If that poor man has sold it he 
must hâve been much in need. But I shall never con- 
sole myself for knowing that the chain you gave me in 
Geneva is not in your hands. The misfortune I can re- 
pair. What is irréparable is that the mails arrive without 



432 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

bringing me any letters from y ou. You make to yourself 
fulse ideas about me, and you do not know to what blaek 
dragons I fall a viotim when a fortnight passes without 
manna from the Ukraine. 

What! you did not reeeive that letter from Sion? In 
future, when I travel I shall prepay my letters myself. 
Oli ! the honour of Swiss innkeepers ! The raseal in whom 
J trusted must bave burned the letter and kept the francs 
I gave biin to prepay it. 

You and I are not of the same opinion on religions 
questions, but I should be in despair if you adopted my 
ideas ; I like botter to see you keep your own; and I 
shall ne ver do anything, even though I think I ain right, 
to destroy them. Only, knowing you to be a good and 
true Catholic, I prefer the pages in whieh you disap- 
point me to those in whieh you preaeh to me Catholi- 
eism ; and yet, they ail give me the greatest pleasure. 
That is only telling you that I want both. I coneeive 
of Catholicism as poesy, and I am preparing a work 
in whieh two lovers are led by love to the religious 
life ; then that h<aj of 11 a il s whom you call your aunt 
will like me mueh and déclare that I make a good use of 
my talents ! 

Addio. You hâve very cruelly proved to me that you 
hâve a prudent friendship for me ; 3^011 judge very sternly 
the poor strivings of a stormy life whieh, from its youth 
up, lias never had the satisfaction of saying to itself, 
;t This is really mine." 

I send you a letter I received yesterday from my sister; 
you will see that the poor child cannot help weeping 
when I weep, and laughing when I laugh. But then, it is 
true, she is near me, and you are in the Ukraine. And 
besides, those who are truly beloved are always sure of 
not wounding, for from them ail is dear — even unjust 
blâme. 

A thousand friendly compliments to M. Hanski and 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 433 

remembrai! ce s to ail. A kiss on the hair of your dear 
Anna. Thauks for the heart's-ease. 



For y ou only. 

I should be most unjust if I clicl not say that from 1823 
to 1883 an angel sustained me through tliat horrible war. 
Madame de Berny, though married, was like a God to 
me. She was a mother, friend, f amily, counsellor ; she 
made the writer, she consoled the young man, she created 
his taste, she wept like a sis ter, she laughed, she came 
daily, like a beneticent sleep, to still his sorrows. She 
did more ; though imder the control of a husband, she 
found me ans to lend me as much as forty-five thousand 
francs, of which I returned the last six thousand in 1836, 
with interest at five per cent, be it understood. But she 
never spoke to me of my debt, except now and then ; 
without lier, I should, assuredly, be dead. She often 
divined that I hacl eaten nothing for days ; she provided 
for ail with angelic goodness ; she encouraged that pride 
which préserves a man from baseness, — for which to-day 
my enemies reproach me, calling it a silly satisfaction in 
myself — the pride that Boulanger has, perhaps, pushed 
to excess in my portrait. 

Therefore, that memory is for much in my life ; it is 
ineffaceable, for it mingles with everything. Tears are 
in me now for two persons only, — for lier who is no more, 
and for lier who still is, and, I hope, ever will be. Thus 
I am inexplicable to ail ; for none hâve ever known the 
secret of my life ; I would not deliver it up to any one. 
You hâve detected it; keep it for me securely. 

Addio. It was riatural that I should not mix this 
great history of the heart with the taie of my disasters 
and that of a material life so difficult. But I could not 
Jet your analytical forehead cast a thought on my confes- 
sion of misery that would say I had forgotten her who 

28 



484 Honore de Balzac. [1837 

gave me the streugth to resist it, or lier who continues 
tliat rôle. 

But let us leave ail this henceforth. Let me take up 
once more my burden. I bear ît alone ; and I can but 
smile at those who ask why I do not run tbus laden. 

But neither do I wish you, in tbinking of me, to see me 
always suffering and harassed. There corne bours when 
I look from my window, my eyes to the sky, forgetting 
ail, lost as I am in memories. Jf the sorrowful h ad not 
the power to forget their sorrows, if tbey could not make 
themselves an oasis where the springs and the palms 
are, what would become of us? 

Adieu; do not blâme me again without thinkinc: of ail 
tliat ought to keep you from saying that I conceal some 
great catastrophe. Do you tliink that I lose millions in 
the boudoir of an opéra girl? 

Sache, Angust 25, 1837. 

I receive your number 31 hère. I ended by getting an 
inflammation of the lungs, and I came to Touraine by 
order of the doctor, who advised me not to work, but to 
amuse myself, and walk about. To amuse myself is im- 
possible. Nothing but travel can counterbalance my 
work. As for working, that is still impossible; even 
the writing of thèse few Unes lias given me an intolérable 
pain in the back between the shoulders ; and as for walk- 
ing, that is still more impossible ; for I cough so ayedly 
that I fear to cheek the perspiration it causes by passing 
from warm to cool spots and'breezy openings. I thought 
Touraine would do me good. But my illness lias in- 
creased. The whole left lung is involvecl and I return 
to Paris to submit to a fresh examination. But as I 
must, no matter what state I am in, résume my work 
and leave a mild and milky regimen for that of stimu- 
lants, I feel that toil will carry me off. 

I hâve reached a point where I no longer regret life ; 



i837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 435 

hopes are too distant; tranquillity too laborious to at- 
tain. If I bad only modéra te work to do I would sub- 
mit without a murmiir to this fate ; but I hâve too much 
grief, too many enemies. The third Part of the "Etudes 
Philosophiques " is now for sale. Not a paper lias noticed 
it. Fourteen copies hâve been sold, though nearly ail was 
new and unpublished! The indorsemeuts I so impru- 
dently gave to that misérable Werdet hâve given rise to 
a keener pursuit of me than I ever had for real debt ; for 
I ne ver met with sueh severity, having, ever siuce I lived 
in the world, been strictly punctual. Never was an ilb 
ness more untimely for my affairs. 

You must think tliat your dear letter came as a bene- 
faction from Providence in the solitude of Sache. But, 
dear, why do you make, like those spiteful little feuille- 
tonists and so many others, the faise reasoning that con- 
siders an author guilty of ail that he puts into the mouth 
of his actors? Because I paint a journalist without faith 
or law, make him talk as he thinks, and begin the portrait 
of that hideous and cancerous sore, does it follow that 
my literature is that of a commercial traveller? You are 
so wrong in this that I will not insist; only, I don't like 
to fincl my polar star at fault, nor to catch myself smil- 
ing as I kiss her pages. You are infallible for me. Do 
not quarrel with me too much in the little time I hâve to 
live. 

The grand afïair is coming on. They engrave, design, 
and print vigorously. But, if there is success, success 
will corne too late. I feel myself decidedly ill. I should 
hâve donc better to go and pass six months at Wierz- 
chownia than to stay on the battle-field, where I shall 
end by being knocked over. When one lias neither sup- 
ports nor ammunition there cornes a moment when one 
must capitulate. The whole world of Paris rises in arms 
against inflexible virtue, and beats it down at any cost. 

I meditate retiring to Touraine ; but I camiot be there 



486 Honoré de Balzac L 1837 

alone. Tliere is no one to sec tliere. One must hâve ail 
in one's own home. 

The moments wlien my energy déserts me are becom- 
ing more fréquent, and, in those terrible phases, it is 
impossible to answer for one's self. Tliere is neither 
reasoning, nor sentiment, nor doctrine that eau quell the 
exeesses of that crisis, wlien the soui is, so to speak, 
absent. Journeys cost so much money, and ruin me for 
a year or more ; thus I a m forced to remain in France. 
The law about the National Guard drives me into going 
to Touraine, for it is impossible for me to submit to that 
raie. 80 I think that towards the middle of September 
I s hall hâve chosen a little house on the banks of the 
Cher or the Loire. I ara even in treaty for one now, 
which would suit me very well, but tliere are serious 
dillicuities. 

I am surprised that you hâve not yet received Bou- 
langer's pieture. They assured me it would go by a lly- 
ing-waggon which went so fast that in a month it would 
be delivered in Brody. Now it is more than two months 
since I announced to you its départ lire. 

Tins distance between us is something very dreadful. 
Your letter has becn so delayed that I feared illnesses; I 
feared lest your fatigues had affected your health. I see 
now that you and yours are well. I will write you from 
Paris after seeing the doetor. 

Why are you vexed with me for not having told you 
of Madame Contarini? I shall be angry with you till 
death for always believing that I need foreign female 
preachers to refresh my memory of my country. Alas ! 
I think of it too much. I hâve too much subordinated 
ail my thoughts to what you, so distant from me, think, to 
be happy. In short, I am neither converted nor to be 
converted, for I hâve but one religion and I do not divide 
my sentiments. If my religion is too terrestrial, the fault 
is in God, ivho mode it what it is. Madame Contarini did 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 437 

not know that slie was following in your religious foot- 
prints ; for it is you who liave undertaken my conversion. 

You are always tbe providence of some one. That 
poor Swiss girl, will she love you bette u tban the otber? 
For we ought never Lo judge those we love; I am very 
fixed on that principle. The affection that is not bliud 
is no affection at ail. 

I résume this letter at midnight, before going to bed. 
My bedroom hère, which people corne to see out of 
curiosity, looks out on woods that are two or threè limes 
centennial, and I take in a view of the Indre and the 
little château that I called Clochegourde. The silence is 
marvellous. 

I leave to-morrow, 2Gth, for Tours with M. de 
Margoune, and the 28th for Paris, where my déplorable 
affairs need me. I always leave this lonely valley with 
regret. 

My mother is very unwell. She siuks under the dis- 
tress which the precarious position of lier childen gives 
her; for we hâve to take charge, my brother-in-Iaw, my 
sister and myself, of the children of my poor dead sister 
Laurence. What makes me spur the principle of my 
courage so much is my désire to succeed in time to gild 
her old âge. 

Do you know that your letter is dated July 27, and 
that I received it August 21? — a whole month! A 
month without news of you is a very long time for a 
friendship watching for it at ail hours, and often, 
between two proofs, taking its head in ils hands and 
asking itself, "What is she thinking of?" 

Well, adieu, for my fatigue is returning; I am going 
to bed and shall think of ail I hâve not told you, forget- 
fulnesses which corne of so short a letter; in Paris I 
shall bave more to tell you. But, no matter what I say, 
find ever on my pages the purest and sweetest flowers of 
an affection that distance cannot lessen, which springs 



438 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

across that distance, — an affection known to you, and 
whicb, in a word, is ever prolix. 

P.uïi^, September 1, 1837. 

Cara, I hasten to tell you tliat the inflammation, which 
turned into bronchitis, is now enred. Eut I imist begin 
work again, and God knows what will happen in consé- 
quence of new excosses. Tbough ail goes well physi- 
cally, ail goes ill pecuniarily ; and I will not tell you 
the particulars, lest tbey bring upon nie more unjust 
suspicions. 

I begin tins evening a comedy in five acts, entilled, 
"Joseph Prudhonime; " for I must corne to that lasi 
resonree; I am in the condition of "3Iy kingdom for a 
korse ! " 

Three months hence you will reçoive tbree very impor- 
tant works: "César Birotteau," the third dhahi, and the 
"Lettres de deux Amants, ou le nouvel Abeilard." I 
count the comedy as nothing. I thiuk I bave never 
doue anythi ng that can be comparée! to "Borthe la 
Repentie," the diamond of the third d'cahi. You 
brought luck to that poem, for the first chapfer was 
written in Geneva, three days after my arrivai. 

I wish not to tell you anything al)out the "Lettres de 
deux Amants; " that is a surprise I désire to make to my 
dear preacheress, to teach lier to comprehend that when 
one bas undertaken to paint the whole of a moral world, 
one must paint it under ail its aspects, with believers 
and unbelievers, and every one in bis place. Apropos 
of the comedy which I am now going to attempt and to 
put upon the stage, I admire to see how persistence is 
necessary in art. That comedy bas been in m} T head 
fortenyears; it bas corne back and back under divers 
faces, it bas been a score of times cast and recast, 
modifiée!, made, remade, and made again, and now it is 
about to corne to the surface, new and vulgar, grand 



1837J Letters to Madame Hanska. 439 

and simple. I am delighted with it; I foresee a great 
success and a work wbicb may maintain itself on the 
repertory among the score of plays which make the glory 
of the Théâtre-Français. I bave a second sight about 
it, as about "La Peau de Chagrin" and "Eugénie 
Grandet." After being reassured by the friend to whom 
I confie! ed the first doubt I had about it, I hâve seen in 
it the eiements of a great thing. There is comedy and 
dumb tragedy, laughter and tears both. It bas five acts, 
as long and fertile as those of "Le Mariage de Figaro." 
ïhis work, brought to birth in the midst of my présent 
miseries, is, at this moment, like a carbuncle glowing 
in the shadows of a muddy grotto. A terrible désire 
seizes me to go and write it in Switzerland, at Geneva; 
but the dearness of living among those Swiss alarms 
me. 

I hâve just seen the drawings made for "La Peau de 
Chagrin," and they are wonderful. This enterprise is 
gigantic. Four thousancl steel engravings, drawn on 
copper-plate in the text itself. One hundred per 
volume! In short, if this affair succeeds, the "Etudes 
Sociales "will be brought forth in their entirety, in a 
magnificent costume, with régal trappings. 

Admit that if, in a few months, Fortune visits my 
threshold, I shall hâve earned her well; and be sure that 
I shall cling fast hold on whatever she deigns to fliog to 
me. 

Never did I find myself in such a tempest as now, 
and never did hope show herself so serene or so beauti- 
ful; she is lustrous in her turquoise, she smiles to me, 
and I let myself go to that smile which helps me to bear 
my misfortunes. Without thèse celestial apparitions 
what would become of poets and of artists when 
unhappy? 

Adieu, dear. I must not tire y ou too long with the 
echoes of the storm — unless, indeed, they make Wierz- 



440 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

chownia tbe sweeter to you, and the long expanse of the 
Ukraine more placicl to your eye. 

I do not understand how il is tbat I am not, in ihe 
middle of August, installed in some corner of your 
mansion, duly framed and mounted, with ail the monastic 
dignity tbat painter gave me. 

You cannot imagine how beautiful Paris is becoming. 
We needed tbe reign of a trowel to arrive at sucb grand 
results. This magnificence, winch advances daily and 
on ail skies, will inake us worthy of being the capital 
of the world. The boulevards paved with asphalt, 
lighted by bronze candelabra with gas, the increasing 
splendour of the shops, of tbat fair, two leagues long, 
perpetually going on and varied by ever new handi- 
works, compose a spectacle tbat is unequalled. In ten 
years we shall be clean; "Paris mud " will be out of the 
dictionaries; we shall become so magnificent tbat Paris 
will be really a great lady, the first of queens, crowmed 
with battlements. 

I renounce Touraine and remain a citizen of the intel- 
lectual metropolis. Eut I shall exempt myself from the 
draconian tyranny of the National Guard by putting 
three leagues of distance between me and this terrible 
queen. Respect is good taste towards royalties. An 
obscure village will receive my miseries and my gran- 
deurs. Your moujik will bave a very humble cottage, 
whence be will now and thcn départ at half-past six to 
reach the Italian Opéra at eight, for music is a distrac- 
tion, the only one tbat remains to him. Those beneficent 
voices refresh both soûl and mind. 

Adieu, dear. Y^ou sbare in sorrows; it is right tbat 
I should send yow rays of gentle hope when she makes 
an azuré rift athwart the dais of gray cloud. God 
grant tbat star may not fa 11 like others, but lead me to 
some treasure-trove. 

I please myself in thinking tbat you are happy; tbat 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska, 441 

your life has taken, after the departare of jour guests, 
its accustomed way, that Paulowska brings you in her 
golden fleeces, that no one steals your books, that no 
wicked page of mine has furrowed that brow so full of 
dazzling majesty; in short, that you hâve ail the 
crumbs of little kappiness, for that is nmch. Mater iali- 
ties, which are the half of life, are not lacldng to you; 
and if they bring monotony, at least the energy that 
may spend itself in sacred régions — where you bear it 
to the détriment of this poor passionate earth — is not 
exhausted. You know, this long time, wkat wishes I 
make that life be light upon you. I hope that Anna, 
and your tall young ladies, and the master, and the 
Swiss maid, in short, ail your household, are well, and 
that you hâve no grief that makes you lift your eyes to 
heaven. 

After that phrase I pick up my spade, I mean my 
pen, and dig in the field "Birotteau," which still needs 
delving and rolling and raking and watering; and when 
you read the letter of François to César, remember that 
it was there that my thought made a pause to turn to 
you and send you this letter across your steppe, like a 
flower of friendship asking asylum in your soil, which, 
in spite of wintry snows, will be al way s coloured and 
perfumed by a sincère affection. 

Sèvres, October 10, 1837. 

Much time has gone by without my writing to you; I 
hâve lived so teinpestuously that I a m not sure whether 
on my return from Touraine and after my convalescence 
I thought to tell you that my chest w r as qui te well and 
had nothing the matter with il. 

In order to put myself outside of that atmcious law 
of the National Guard, I hâve removed from the rue 
Cassini and the rue des Batailles, and legally quitted 
Paris; that is to say, I hâve gone before three mayors 



442 Honoré de Balzac. fi837 

and déclarée! that I quitted the capital; after which I 
installed niyself and live bere at Sèvres. Therefore 
take note that after you receive tliis letter you must 
address your letters to u Monsieur Surville, rue de la 
Ville-d' Avray, Sèvres, Seine-et-Oise," for I must receive 
îny letters under that name for some mont lis to corne, so 
that m y address may not be known at the post-oïliee, 
partly for secret reasons (which are Werdet's fuilu ro, 
and the pursuit which 1 must enduie till I can earn the 
money to pay up my indorsements), and partly to escape 
the great quantity of letters witJi which unknown men 
and women overwhelm me. 

I bave bought hère a bit of g round containing some 
forty rods, on which my brother-in-ia\v is going to buikl 
me a tiny bouse, where I shall henceforth live uutil my 
fortune is made, or where I shall remain forever if I 
stay a beggar. When it is built, and I am in it, w r hich 
will be in January next, I "w i 11 let you know, and you 
can then write to me under my own name, and put the 
address of my poor hermitage, which is t% Les Jardies," the 
name of the pièce of ground on which I hang like a worm 
on a green leaf. Land about Paris is so parcelled ont 
that I had to negotiate with three peasants to collect 
tins lot of forty rods, and a rod conta ins only seventeen 
square feet. I am bere at a distance which al'iows me 
to go and corne from Paris in two hours. T can go to 
the théâtre and sleep at home. I am in Paris without 
being there. There are neither heavy taxes nor tolls; 
living is cheapei", and the day when ï can makc sure of 
having a thousand francs a month for myself I can bave 
a carriage. And fmally, I escape that perpétuai inquisi- 
tion which publishes every step I take and every word I 
say. I shall neither see nor receive any one. Then 
instead of spending twenty thousand francs with other 
people >vhere I may lodge, I shall spend tbein on my own 
home, and nothing shall ever get me ont of that. You 



1837] Le tiers to Madame Sa/iska. 443 

would never believe how I like fixedness. Constancy is 
one of the corner-stones of my nature. 

You can easily understand that thcse turmoils bave 
not left me a minute to myself. I hâve looked at a 
hundred *houses around Paris, and been in negotiations 
for several. For a whole montb I bave roamed tbe 
environs to find what I wanted on tbe exact boundary of 
tbe department of tbe Seine and Seine-et-Oise. I came 
very near buying one bouse; but after convincing myself 
that I should bave to spend twenty tbousand francs in re- 
' pairs and altérations to suit myself, I determined to buy 
a pièce of ground and build; for a bouse would cost only 
twelve tbousand francs, built as I wished it, and the 
land, with the peasant's bouse on it, came to not more 
than five tbousand. Ileckoning tbe interior at tbree 
tbousand, tbe whole would be tvventy tbousand, and 
allowing five tbousand for mistakes, that would make 
tvventy -five tbousand; that is, a rental of twelve hun- 
dred francs a year, and tbe coinfort of having one' s 
cabin to one's self without tbe annoyances of noise, for 
my land backs upon tbe park of Saint-Cloud. I bave 
retained the apartment in the rue de Batailles for a few 
months to store my furniture until I install myself at 
Les Jardies. 

I basten to write to you, because to-morrow I begin 
"La Maison Nucingen " for the "Presse." That means 
fifty columns to hatch out before the end of the month, 
and then? — then my pen will be free, for my new 
editors bave compromised with the defunct "Figaro," 
uow about to rise from its ashes, and I bave finifebed 
that third dizain. So, about November 1 my pen will 
owe notbing to any one, and I can begin the exécution 
of my new treaty by the publication of u César Birotteau." 
But, as that work cannot appear before January 1, and 
as I bave bad an advance of tvvo months, I shall receive 
no money till Marcb. My distress must therefore go on 
for six months longer, and it is frightful. 



444 Honore de Balzac, [1837 

This illncss luis made me lose six irréparable weeks. 
I lliink ever, if îny embarrassments are too great, of 
going to take refuge witb you for three months. I keep 
tbat project for a last resource, and I now repent tbat I 
Jiave not already put it into exécution; for when I a m 
known to be tiavelling everybody waits, and nobody 
says anything. After tbat, returning witb one or two 
plays in liand, ail my mouey troubles couîd be pacified. 
r>ut I cannot do tbat until I bave paid my peu debts and 
given one work to my new editors; wkich tbrows me 
over to tbe montb of February, — if, always, my bouse 
is finisbed and I am in it. 

I cannot give you an idea of tbe turmoil in winch I 
bave been for tbe last six weeks, and tbe disconnected- 
ness of my life, usuady (in body) so peaceful. And ail 
tbe while I bad to read p roofs and write. You are igno- 
rant, in your Ukraine, of wbat Parisian removals are; 
notbing describes tbem but a provincial saying: "Three 
removals are equal to one conflagration." 

In the midst of thèse worries and fatigues I bave bail 
two joys: tbey are your two lelters, Avbicb I sball answer 
in a few days, for I bave imitecl tbem witli tbeir elders 
in a precious casket wbich I took to my sister, in order 
not to subject tbem to thèse removal agitations. I think 
there is sometbing in tbem I ougbt to answer. 

It is probable that I sball not go to tbe Opéra, and this 
Avili be, I assure you, a great privation; because there 
is nothing that distracts my minci like music, and I do 
not know how else to relax my soûl. Notbing will 
remain to me but the contemplation of the azuré waves 
of hope, and I don't know y^hether this hovering witb 
spread wings above that infinité, wbich recèdes as we 
approach it, is not a pain — wbich pleases perhaps, but 
is noue tbe less painful. 

I bave bad many griefs since I wrote to 3 T or«. In the 
])assing crisis in wbich I am, every one bas iied me like 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 445 

a leper. I am ali alone. But I prefer this solitude 
witbin my solitude to tue fawning hatred whîch is 
called, iu Paris, friendship. 

I bave fitill a conte to write for my tliird dizain, to 
replace 011e whieh was too free, and it is novv a month 
that I bave been tryiug to tind sometbing, witbout avail. 
Nctbing but tbe want of tbat feuille delays tbe publi- 
cation. . . . Next month tbe announcemeut of our 
tontine on tbe ''Etudes Sociales" vvill, no doubt, appear; 
and from tbe lst to tbe lotb tbe magnificent édition will 
be ready. Tbey bave begun witb "La Peau de Chagrin." 
Tbe second volume will be "Le Médecin de campagne," 
and tbe tbird "Le Lys dans la Vallée." God grant tbat 
tbe affair succeed! 

I am in despair at hearing tbat your cassolette is in 
Warsaw, and I cannot imagine why it bas not been sent 
to y ou by some opportun ity. Is tbere no communication 
between you and Warsaw? Tbere are now strong 
reasons for suspecting tbe person in question, wbose 
journey is inexplicable. I add to this letter a line for 
bim, whicb you must seal and send to ni m, to hasten tbe 
delivery of tbat jewel. 

Write me a line, I beg of you, to let me know if tbe 
picture lias reached Brody. Double tbe time it ougbt to 
bave taken bas elapsed, and I am very impatient to 
know if anytbing unlucky bas bappened to it on the 
journey. I hear notbing of the statue from Milan. 
Tbose Italîans are really very singular. 

You wrote me tbat you migbt go to Vienna, but hâve 
never again mentioned that project. If you go tbere I 
could bring you, myself, a whole library of manuscripts 
which belong to you, and are beginning to be dilficult to 
transport. 

This is the first time I bave ever answered two letters 
from you; for if you reckon up, you will see tbat in 
letter-writing I bave the advantage, in spite of what 



446 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

you call, so insultingly, your chatter. W ha te ver it is, 
1 a m grieved wlien I do not get it, and it is now a fort- 
night sinee I bave seeu Auguste enter, bearing respect- 
fully a little packet, neatly folded and very spruce, 
wbich cornes from sucb distance and yet bas notbing ol' 
tbe immensity of tiie steppes in its form. 

My play, tbe comedy in five acts, is ail laid ont, and 
as your opinion bas made nie change and modify tbe 
one I first began, I dare not tell you tbis one, because 
wben your reply cornes it Avili be written, and if you are 
against it you will throw me into terrible perplexities. 
Is not tbis falling on one's knees before one's critie? 
Wberefore, bebold me thereî I place myself at your 
feet witb a good grâce, entreating you to pay no atten- 
tion to wbat I bave just said, and to go your way witb 
your female scissors througb my plot, and eut up my 
dramatic calico mercilessly, for, in my présent situa- 
tion, tbis play represents a hundred tbousand francs, and 
I must make it a masterpiece weil and quickly, or 
succumb. 

You know "Monsieur Prudbomme," tbe type made by 
Henri Monnier? I take it boldly; because in order to 
seize success one must not bave to obtain acceptance 
for a création. One must, like tbe aml>assador making 
love, buy it rendy-made. Hence, tbere is no anxiety 
about tbe personage; I am sure of tbe laugbter so far. 
Only, J must annibilate Monnier, and my Prudbomme 
must be t/ie Prudbomme. Monnier made only a poor 
vaudeville of burlesques; I sball make (ive acts for tbe 
Théâtre-Français. 

Prudbomme, as type of our présent bourgeoisie, as 
image of tbe Gannerons, of tbe Aubrs, of tbe National 
Guard, of tbat middle-class on which // padrone rests, is 
a personage far more comic tban Turcaret, droller tban 
Figaro. Ile is vvbolly of tbe présent day. Ilere is tbe 
subject: — 



1837] Letters to Madame JlansJca. 447 

Ât thirty-seven years of âge, Prudhomme is seizecl 
with a passion for the daughler of a porter, — charming 
person, who studies at the Conservatoire and bas earried 
off prizes. Sbe sees before lier tbe career of Made- 
moiselle Mars; sbe bas distinction, jargon, sbe is quite 
comme il faut ; sbe is eigbteen, but sbe bas been already 
betrayed in a tîrst love; sbe bas bad a son by a pupil at 
the Conservatoire, who bas gone to America out of love 
for his cbild, being alarmed by bis poverty, and resolved 
to make bis fortune. Pamela mourus him, but sbe bas 
tbe cbild on ber arms. Tbe désire to support and bring 
up ber child makes ber marry Prudhomme, from wliom 
sbe conceals her situation. Prudhomme, at thirty- 
seven, possesses thirty tbousand francs in savings; lie 
bas invested them in tbe mines of Anzin in 1815, and 
bis shares are worth, in 1817, tbree bundred tbousand 
francs. That incites him to marry. The marriage 
takes place. He bas a daughter by his wife. Tbe tbou- 
sand-franc shares of Anzin are worth, in 1834, one bun- 
dred and fifty tbousand francs. This is tbe prologue; 
for tbe play itself begins in 1834, eigbteen years later. 

Monsieur Prudhomme bas realized fifteen bundred 
thousand francs on half bis shares, and keeps the rest. 
He lias made bimself a banker; and, as happens to ail 
imbéciles, he lias prospered under the advice of his w T ife, 
who is an angelic and superior woman, full of propriety 
and good taste. She bas known how to play the rôle of 
a woman of means. But her attachment to lier husband, 
inspired by tbe really good qualities of that ridiculous 
man, strengthened by tbe passion that he bas for ber, by 
the comfort that he gives her through his wealth, is 
balanced by tbe maternai sentiment exaUed to tbe highest 
pi tch which Pamela bears to her first child, whom, 
tbanks to this wealth, she w r as enabled to bring up, 
with an invisible hand, until two years earlier, when sbe 
introduced him into ber own home, without bis knowing 



448 Honore de Balzac. [1837 

tke trutb. Adolpbe is made bead clerk, and tbc poor 
motber bas played ber dreadful part so carefully tbat no 
one, not even Adolpbe, suspects tbe great love tbat 
envelops bim. M. Prudbomme is very fond of Adolpbe. 
Mademoiselle Prudbomme is seventeen years old. Tbe 
play is entitled "Le Mariage de Mademoiselle Prud- 
bomme." M. Prudbomme, ricb from tbe sbares of 
Anzin, ricb witb tbe profits of bis bank, and possessing 
mucb private properly, will give bis daugbter a million. 
Sbe is, tberefore, witb a million and expectations, one 
of tbe best matebes in Paris. 

I must tell y ou tbat, unlike tbe Antonys, Adolpbe is 
a gay, practical young fellow, bappy in bis position, 
deligbted not to bave eitber fatber or motber, and never 
inquiring about tbem. In tbat lies a dreadful clrama 
between tbe motber and ber son, for poor Madame Prud- 
bomme is tortured a dozen times a day by tbe indiffér- 
ence of lier son in tbe matter of bis motber, and by a 
crowd of circumstances I cannot explain bere; tbey 
make tbe play itself. 

Tbe fortune of Mademoiselle Prudbomme tempts a 
young notary, wbo owes bis business to bis predecessor, 
who is eager to be paid for it. Tbis old notary is a 
f ri end of Prudbomme; be bas introduced tbe young 
notary to tbe bouse. Madame Prudbomme' s tenderness 
for Adolpbe does not escape bis eye; be believes tbat 
sbe intends to give bim ber daugbter; and tbe two 
notariés open Prudbomme's e} 7 es to bis wife's love for 
Adolpbe. Hère, tben, is tbe wife unjustly aecused of 
an imaginary sin, from wbicb sbe does not know bow 
to vindicate berself. Tbe comedy cornes, you under- 
stand, from the pathos of Prudbomme, and from bis 
efforts to convict bis wife. His wife accepts tbe singu- 
lar combat of silencing lier busband as if sbe were guilty, 
wdiicb is a satirical situation completely in tbe style of 
Molière. P>ut sbe sees wdienee tbe blow bas corne. Sbe 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 449 

fences with the two notariés, and, pressée! by them, she 
sliows them tbe infamy of tbeir conduct, and déclares 
that she will never give her daughter to a man capable 
of soiling the honour of the mother to obtain the 
daughter. They are forced to retract to Prudhomme, 
and the mother, to secure the tranquillity of her hus- 
band, is forced to separate from her son. 

That is the main play; but, you understand, there is 
an enormous quantity of situations, scènes, movements. 
Servants are mixed up in it. It is a picture of our 
présent bourgeoisie. There is a return of Adolphe' s 
father, which complicates everything, and brings about 
the dénouement. There is a horrible scène in which 
Prudhomme, in order to get light on his wife's passion, 
proposes the marriage of brother and sister, and arms 
himself with his wife's terror. There is also the most 
fruitful of ail subjects, great ridicule of m en and things 
through Prudhomme 's magniloquence. Madame Prud- 
homme is the Célimène of the bank, the true character 
of our women of the présent day. But there is, above 
ail, a keen satire on manners and moral s. Prudhomme, 
accepting this false disaster, vanquished by the superi- 
ority of bis wife, is a figure that was lacking to the 
stage. The solid happiness, marred by the slander of 
self-interested persons and restored by them for their 
own interests, bas the true ring of comedy. Made- 
moiselle Prudhomme does not marry. Apparently, ail 
this is vague; but the vagueness and want of outline is 
that of the "Misanthrope," the plot of which is in ten 
lines. The rôle of Madame Prudhomme, who is forty 
years old, can be played only by Mademoiselle Mars; 
but, with her tacit maternity, crushed down at every 
moment, she can be superb. 

Ecco, cara, the card on which I ara about to stake my 
whole future; for I hâve but that chance left, so déplor- 
able is the state of the publishing business now; and I 

29 



450 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

must, if our grand affair fails, liave something to fall 
back upon. I shall not do that play only. I shall do 
two others at tbe saine time, so as to obtain the receipts 
of two théâtres at least. 

Addio. I will write y ou between now and November 
1, when I shall hâve got soine piessing matters on m y 
hands. But, I entreat y ou, do not forget, and continue 
to me the taie of y our tranquil Tkiainean life. I hâve 
flowers beneath my Windows, dahlias, plants that make 
me think of your gardens. When I open the book in 
which I put ail the thoughts of my work, and so many 
other things, I turn ever to the one saying, "I will 
be Richelieu to préserve you." That, in this great 
corral of my ideas, is the tiower that my eye caresses 
oftenest. 

Be indulgent to the poor third dizain, the third of 
which was written at the hôtel de l'Arc. "* Berthe la 
Repentie" is decidedly the fmest thing in the "Contes 
Drolatiques." I gossip to you about my poor thoughts; 
my life is such a désert; there are so many misconceptions, 
récent betrayals, dilliculties, that I dare not talk to you 
of my material life. ît is too sad. 

October 12. 
The " Conte " is rewritten and sent to the printing- 
oflioe, and I can say that I a m hcartily glad to hâve 
fmisbed at last that eternally " in the press " dizain. I 
liave Jïiany other books to finish also. t4 Massimilla 
Doni " lacks a chapter on u IMoïse, " which requires long 
studies of the score ; and as I must make them with a con- 
summate musician, J can not be master of my own work. 
Next I hâve a préface to sew on, like a collaret, to ct La 
Femme Supérieure ; " and a fourth Part also, like a 
bustle; for the sixty-five columns in the '"Presse" did 
not furnish forth a volume ; hence the ]>reface and the 
added end of the volume. You cannot imagine how 



1837] Letters to Madame Hamka. 451 

thèse mendings, thèse replasterings, weary me ; I arn 
worn-out with such secondary toils. 

I hâve forgotten to tell you, I think, about Mademoi- 
selle de Fauveau, who remembers you very well. She 
and her sister are such Catholics that the latter made 
difficulties about marrying the son of Bautte (the million- 
aire jeweiler of Geneva wdiere you and I went together, 
you remember?) on account of his religion, and y et thèse 
tvvo poor women are in great poverty. Is not that splen- 
did in faith? Mademoiselle de Fauveau, to whom I said 
that many persons objected to what I made Madame de 
Morts au f say before dying, fell into a holy wrath with such 
profane ones, for she holds in admiration the u Lys dans 
la Vallée. " When I told her that I had modified the cries 
of the flesh she said : — 

" At least, do not take out : I will learnEnglish to say 
c my dear.' " 

She thought the Catholic thème magnificently laid down ; 
for it is the combat of mind over matter. 

" Unhappily," I said to her, " it seems that none but 
you and I see it so." 

She is a charming person, but rather too mystical and 
mythic. She made me go to San Miniato to see primitive 
triglyphs, superb, in relation to the Trinity ; but I saw 
nothing of the kind. Don't call me a " commercial 
traveller" again, on account of that blindness. I would 
like to be a traveller and travel to your car a patria, but 
not a commercial one. 

Adieu ; I hope that this frail paper will tell you ail I 
think, and that you will not think of my distress, or of 
my griefs ; but that you will do as I do myself — lift, 
gaily and sadly both, my head to heaven, whence I hâve 
awaited, from my youth np, the Orient of full happiness. 

Do not scold me too much, cara, for my silence, for 
there has been no truce or rest to me since my last letter ; 
and I hâve been saying tô myself that T must hâve made 



452 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

you anxious, without being able to sit clown and write ; 
for to write one word only is what I can never do. Some 
day, besidc your fire, make me relate to you tins month ; 
you wili then see what it bas been. Thèse are real novels 
that must be kept for private talks ; and then the lord of 
Wierzchownia will laugh, as lie did when I told him of m y 
campaigns in China. 

Ciiaillot, October 20, 1837. 

I reçoive this morning your number 34 and bave just 
read the taie of your joumey. I am hère for my mother's 
fète-day. 

Those cursed l)uilders demand the whole month of 
November to arrange my cabin at Sèvres ; and I shall be 
hère at least a fortnight to attend to the proofs of " La 
Maison Nucingen." My editors hâve arranged with the 
4 c Figaro '' and hâve bought baek my agreement with it, 
so that my peu owes nothing to any one, no matter who, 
after the publication of t4 La Maison Nueingen. " I am 
unusually content with the third dizain. But you don't 
know how that literature is proscribed ; it is so blamed 
for obscenity that I should not be surprised at a gênerai 
hue and cry against it. Euglish manias are gaining on 
us ; it is enougli to make one adore Catholicism. 

" Massimilla Doni," another book whieh will be much 
misunderstood, gives me immense labour from its difïi- 
culties ; but I hâve never caressed anything so much as 
those mythieal pages, because the myth is so profoundly 
buried beneath reality. You hâve, no doubt, before this 
read " G-ambara " in the "Revue de Saint-Pétersbourg ; " 
for those worthy pirates will not hâve overlooked that 
work, which costme six months toil. 

I hâve seen Versailles ; Louis Philippe's action was so 
far good, as it saved the palace ; but it is the most 
ignoble and the silliest pièce of work in itself I ever saw ; 
so bad is it in art and so niggardly in exécution. When 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 453 

you see it you will be amazed ; and when I explain to you 
what is Louis XIV., Louis XV., Louis XVI., and Empire, 
you will think tlie rest horribly mean and bourgeois. Your 
Aunt Leczinska is there a dozen times in f amily portraits, 
and I took pleasure in looking at her and saying to my- 
self with a laugh, " Better a live emperor than a buried 
dowdy ; " for you are a queen of beauty, and she an 
ugly dowdy; tliough that must be the fault of the paint- 
ers, for she was really very liandsoine. An extraordinary 
thing is, that there is not one of her portraits that is like 
another; so many portraits, so inany différent women. 
She was, no doubt, variable. What is really fine at 
Versailles, worthy of Titian and ail that is noblest in 
painting, is the " Consécration of Napoléon" and the 
t; Crowning of Joséphine," the " Blessing of the Eagles " 
and " Napoléon pardoning Arabs " in the pictures of David 
and Guirin. AVhat a great painter David is ! Ile is 
colossal. I never saw those three pictures before. 

I write to you also in présence of a f riend [her portrait] 
in the contemplation of whom I lose myself as in the 
infinité. I hâve a quarrel to make with you, apropos of 
an insincere sentence in your number 33, about your 
regret at not having friends who can travel for your 
benefit. That sentence is one of the wounds that reach 
ray heart ; for you know well that if for you and yours 
it were necessary that I should go to the ends of the 
earth, or do daily something difficult and binding (which 
is more than exhibiting one's self in greater ways), I would 
not reflect a moment, I would do it with the blind obédi- 
ence of a dog. If you know that, your remark is bad ; 
if you do not know it, put me to the proof. My character, 
my manners and morals, ail that is I, is so horribly calum- 
niated that despair seizes me when I see that I hâve not 
even one little corner where doubt and suspicion do not 
enter. 

You tell me that I write to you less often ; there is not 



454 Honoré de Balzac. [ks;j: 

a letier of jours without an answer, and I often writc to 
you in a seramble aniid tbe desperate struggles 1 main- 
tain, which will end, perhaps, in conquering my courage. 

The announ cernent of our grand air air is postponed lo 
tlie period of the gênerai élections, a moment when the 
newspapers are much rcad. The first number will proba- 
bly appear November 15. It wiii be my Austerlilz, or my 
Waterloo. 

You spoke of the material obstacles to your présence 
among the works at Wierzchowuia; luit 1 own tliat if you 
understand very little my material obstacles, 1 understand 
yours still less ; I cannot conceive expense in the solitude 
of a steppe. Make me your bailiff, and you will see 
that the nnui who created Grandet understands domestic 
economy. 1 would rather be your bailiff than be Lord 
Lyron; Lord Lyron was not happy, and I should be very 
happy. 

The farther 1 go, the more fréquent are my moments of 
dépression and despair. Tins solitude and tins constant 
toil without compensation kill nie. Every day 1 thiuk 
back to those days w lien the person of whom I hâve told 
you provisioned me with courage, and shared my labour. 
What an immense loss ! What can £111 il? An image? 
That image is mute and does not even look at me. But, 
whatever she be, and in spite of the imperfections of 
memory, she gilds my solitude and I can say that she 
enlightens it. 

You cannot think how nnriy dark distresses hâve 
résultée! from the blow that deprived me of Madame de 
Berny. First, the tardy réparations of ail my famlly, 
who did not likc lier, and who repeated the scène of 
" Clarissa Ilarlowe." Then, ail tliose little tliings of tlie 
heart which ought to l)e burned, or remain in one's own 
possession. Her son lias understood nothing of ail that; 
lie lias not returned me such things, and T do not venture 
to ask for them. So tliat 1, whom neither work, nor grief, 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 455 

nor anything else seems likely to kill, I am malring 
arrangements as if I were to die to-morrow, tbat I may 
grieve the heart of none. 

I heard yesterday your dear u Norma." But Rubini 
was replaced by a wretcbed ténor and they skipped his 
airs. I came away before tbe scène wbere Norma dé- 
clares her passion to the Drnids. Tbe strangest set of 
people were in the boxes, for no one bas yet returned 
from the country ; the vine harvest was late tins year, 
and the weather superb. Prince Ed. Schonberg occupied 
the box of the Apponys, who are still absent. But no 
princess. 

Was I not right when I said to you in Vienna that the 
fortnight I passed there was like an oasis in my life? 
Since that moment I bave never Lad a day or an hour 
of repose. I travelied to gain a truce to such life ; and 
no doubt the month, or months, I might again take, in 
which Paris could be Completel y forgotten, would be 
another oasis. But can I take them? There are days 
when a ferocious désire seizes me to drop everything. 
It would hâve been wise had I committed that folly. 
That alone would enable me to bring back a play ; hère, 
I am too much pursued by my obligations. 

You can hardly imagine how your letters carry me to 
you ; and how those which seem to you long and diffuse 
are precious to me. Where there is heart and constancy, 
one cannot dweîl on the merit and the grâce that mark 
each détail ; but I do assure you they make me very fas- 
tidious. There corne heavy and peculiarly gloomy hours 
when I bave only to read through some past page, taken 
at random, to soothe my soûl ; it is as if I issued from a 
dungeon to cast eyes on a lovely landscape. Only — 
there bave been some sad things, or rather, saddening 
things ; for example, when you believe on the word of 
your sister Caroline; when you say you would not know 
what to do at Wierzchownia with a Parisian, a wit, who 



456 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

needs Paris and would l)e bored in the Ukraine. That 
proves that a kundred letters will not make you know me, 
nor the forty-five days we spent together. I own I ain 
not saddened, but humiliated, by tJiat tirade from a 
clian ni n g cre atu re . 

Àpropos of the third dizain; I earnestly désire tliat 
you av il 1 not read it until M. Ilanski lias first passed 
judgment on it ; for if it were iikely to injure me in 
your mind I would rather tliat it should never go upon 
your bookshelves. It is specially a book for men; and I 
suffer when that casy and inoffensive pleasantry is ill- 
understood or ill-taken. Do me tins favour; let it un- 
wrinkle the boyard's lnw when lie lias his blue devils ; 
but hide the book away. 

I believe you arc right as to the route I had better 
take, and that from Havre to Lubeek and from Lubeek 
to Berlin woukl be best. But by Berlin, one must go 
through \\ r arsaw ; and ï wanted to avoid A\ r arsaw, be- 
cause I haie those stupid occasions when one is reeog- 
nized and réceptions are made for one without heart or 
soûl, purely from vanity. But it is the better route 
Perhaps also the least costly. 

When you spoke to me in your number 33 of a happi- 
ness that I did not dream of in the rue de Lesdiguières, 
believing that I should see disappointment in a peaceful, 
obscure, secluded existence, happy in a home and confi- 
dence, you did not know how much ballast I hâve thrown 
into the sea. how many of my soa})-l)ubl)les hâve })urst, 
how little I now cling to that which men call famé (which 
is hère the privilège of being calumniated, viîifiecl, dis- 
graced). Réputation, political consistency, ail is in the 
water. That which is not in the water, and on which I 
rely, is the youth of heart that will enable me to love for 
twenty years a woman who might tlien be fort} T -six — tins 
counts the form for little, and the soûl for ail ! 

vThy do you speak to me of a journal in which I am a 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 457 

shareholder? Journal yourself, as the school-boys say. 
You believe in advertisements ! You think our names are 
respectée! ! People take them for puffs of a spurious 
Macassar, a sham perfume; but whoever would attack 
this singular humbug would be well seofïed at. I shall 
never again concern myself in business or a newspaper ; 
a scalded cat fears cold water. 

I hâve a persécuter who wants to put me in prison 
(always that business of Werdet, who lias got his certifi- 
cate of bankruptcy and walks about Paris free of credi- 
tors). Jules Sandeau quarrelled with this man, whom lie 
despised on his personal account. Well, he lias now 
made up with hiin, and dines with him. I hâve been a 
father to Jules. I cry to myself, " Ilere 's another man 
stricken from the list of the living for me ! " Do you 
think that makes me love Paris? 

Adieu for to-day. I will write you a few more lines 
before closing my letter. I must now apply myself to 
" La Maison Nueingen " and, like Sisyphus, roll my 
rock. 

Monday, 23. 

I don't know aii3 T thing more weaiying than to sit a 
whole night, from midnight till eight o'clock, beneath the 
light of shaded candies, before blank paper, unable to 
fhid thoughts, listening to the noise of the hre and that 
of carriages sounding beyond the window panes from 
the Barrière des Bons-Hommes and the quay. This is 
what your servant lias doue for fîve nights past, without 
meeting the moment when some inner- voice, I know not 
what it is, says to him, " Go on ! " Such useless fatigues 
count for nothing to every one. 

Thursday, 26. 

Three days during which T hâve not been able to do 
anything — except torture myself. 

Yesterday I met one of your guests at Gène va, that 
relater of anecdotes, who spoke of the Z . . . He Is to 



458 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

corne and sce me this morning ; and I would like much 
to know, by return mail, whether, in case lie returns to 
la cara patrki, I eau give liim some of the manuscripts 
that belong to you ; for I think they will bave to be sent 
in detacliments. 

My brain must bc fatigued by the p roofs of a Les 
Contes Drolatiques" and of w4 Massimilla Doni," for com- 
plète impotence in respect to what I hâve to do reigns 
there. I bave often liad thèse checks, but they hâve 
never before lasted so long. 

I must bid you farewell and send this lctter, winch, by 
the blessed invention of the u bon roy Loys le unzième," 
will be in your hands within twenty days. Winter is 
about to begin, so ail chance of going to see you is post- 
poned till spring, — though snow-drifts do not terri f y me 
any more than wolves ; those who are ve-ry unhappy need 
fear no accidents. They are the anointed of sorrows. 
Death respects them. 

I will own to you that when I found myself so ill at 
Sache I h ad a sort of sensuous tranquillity in feeling my 
dull pains, for I lire from daty on/y. 

1 am now to make two grand essays for fortune: the 
tontine affair and my comedy. After that, I shall lot 
myself go with the current and see what cornes of it. Be- 
lieve that after a struggle of eighteen years, and a bit ter 
fight of seven, if i ' a campaign of France " should end 
them, I must, willing or unwilling, find my Saint Helena. 
Between now and the month of April ail will be decided. 
The tontine will hâve failed, " Mademoiselle Prudhomme " 
will hâve been hissed, and I shall hâve flung myself into 
a diligence from Lubeck to Berlin in search of a rest most 
needful. You will see a literarv soldier covered with 
wounds to nurse. But lie will not be hard to amuse, 
" quoi qu'on die." 

Well, adieu. Write to me oftener, and do not forget 
to remember me to your colony. Tell M. Hanski that 1 



1837] Letters to Madame Hajiska. 459 

think I hâve found a means to naturalize madder in Rus- 
sia. That will wake him up. Many caressing things to 
your Anna. Tell me confidentially of something that 
would please lier from Paris, and find hère the bornage of 
my attachment, and the flowers of a heart that can never 
be withered of the m. 

Chaillot, November 7, 1837. 

I have decidedly begun my comedy ; but, after defining 
its principal lines, I perceived the diffîculties, and that 
gives me a profound admiration for the great geniuses 
who bave left their works on the stage. 

Yesterday I went to hear Beethoven's symphony in C 
minor. Beethoven is the only man who makes me know 
jealousy. I would rather be Beethoven tban Rossini or 
Mozart. There is a divine power in that man. In that 
finale, it seems as though some enchanter raised you iuto 
a land of marvels, amid the noblest palaces filied with 
the treasures of ail arts; and there, at bis command, 
gâtes, like those of the Baptistry, turn on their hinges, 
letting you see beauties of an unknown kind — the fairy 
land of fantasy. There, flutter beings with the beauties 
of woman and the rainbow-tinted wings of the angel ; you 
are bathecl in an upper air, that air which, according to 
Swedenborg, sings and sheds fragrance, has colour and 
feeling, which fîows to you, and béatifies you ! 

No, the mind of the writer can never give such joys, 
because whatwe paint is finite, fixed, and what Beethoven 
flings to you is infinité ! You understand that I only 
know the symphony in C minor, and that fragment of the 
Pastoral symphony which we heard rattled off at Geneva 
on a second floor — of which I heard little, because two 
steps away from you stoocl a young man, who asked nie, 
with straining eyes and a petrified air, if I knew who that 
beautiful lady was; the which was you, and I was proud 
as though I were a woman, young, beautiful, and vain. 



460 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

I live so solitary a life that I hâve nothing to tell you 
of Paris, nor can I paint its life, or repeat its cancaDS. 
I can ouly speak to you of îr^seif, a subject of perpétuai 
sadness. My Utile bouse gets on ; tbe masonry will be 
finislied by the oOth of this moiith. But, no doubt, it 
will uot be habitable for three or four months. 

1 ain plunged at this moment into laughable trouble, in 
the sensé that 1 hâve in my own home one of the pleasures 
of wealth. My " faithful" Auguste doubts my future 
fortune and leaves me, alleging a certain paternal will 
which desires liiin to abandon domestic service for com- 
merce ; but the real truth of this flight is his own disbe- 
lief in my future opulence, and a species of certainty that 
my présent distress will last, and thus prevent him from 
doing his own little business. I let him go ; and I groan 
at having to hnd some otlier rascal. I like those I know; 
though this one cared as little for me as for the year I. of 
the Pepublic. Ile paid no attention to anything ; lie lef t 
me. ill in bed, one whole day without a drop to drink ; 
though when lie was ill I gave him a nurse, and 1 paid a 
thousand francs tins year to exempt him from the con- 
scription, lie h ad become intolérable to me through his 
négligence, so that his présent ingratitude suits me. 

Imagine that for the last three yer.rs, at least, I hâve 
had on my hands an Irish lady, a Miss Patrickson, who 
lias appointed herself to translate my works and propa- 
gate tbem in England. The story is droll. Madame de 
C . . ., f urious against me for varions reasons, took lier 
to teach Engiish to R . . . and invented a trick to play 
me through lier. She made lier write me a love-letter 
signed " Lady Novil." 1 take the Engiish u Almanach" 
and I could not fmd in it either a Lord or a Sir Nevil. 
IMoreover, the letter was very equivocal. You know that 
when such things are feigned there is either too much or 
too little of them; I saw therefore what it was. I re- 
plied with ardour. A rendezvous wns given me at the 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 461 

Opéra. I went that clay to see Madame de C . . ., who 
made me stay to dinner. But I excused myself, saying 
I had an engagement at the Opéra. Sbe said, " Very 
good, 1 '11 take y ou there." But in. saying so she could 
not help exehanging a glance with lier demoiselle de com- 
pagnie, and that glance sufficed me. I guessed ail. I 
saw she was laying a trap for me and meant to make me 
ridiculous forever after. I went to the Opéra. No one 
there. Then I wrote a letter, which brought the miss, 
old, horrible, with hideous teeth, but full of remorse for 
the part she had played, full also of affection for me and 
contempt and horror for the marquise. Though my letters 
were extremely ironical and written for the purpose of 
making a woman masquerading as a false Lady blush, 
she had got them back into her own possession. Thus 
I had the wiiip hand of Madame de C . . . and she ended 
by divining that in this intrigue she was on the down 
side. From that time forth she vowed me a hatred which 
will end only with life. In fact, she may rise out of her 
grave to calumniate me. She ne ver opened " Séraphita" 
on account of its dedication, and her jealousy is such 
that if she could annihilate the book she would weep 
for joy. 

So this horrible, old, and toothless Miss Patrickson, 
feeling herself bound to make réparation, lives only as 
my translater. I met at Poissy a Madame Saint-Clair, 
daughter of some English admirai, I don't know who, 
sister of Madame Delmar, who is also infatuated to 
translate me, and has proposed to me a lucrative arrange- 
ment with the English reviews. I hâve said neither y es 
nor no, on account ofmy Patrickson. As it is now three 
years that the poor créature has been struggling with the 
affair, which is her livelihood, I imagined she would be 
glad of this help. I went to see her Wednesday evening , 
she lives on a fifth floor, but I myself know nothing more 
grandiose than poverty. . I mount, I arrive ! I find the 



4u2 Honoré de Balzac, [1837 

poor créature as clrunk as a Suisse. Never in my life 
was I so cmbarrassed ; she spoke between lier tecth ; she 
did not know what I was saying ; and finally, when she 
did understand that I was proposing to lier collaboration 
in lier translations, she burst into tears; she told me that 
if this work did not remain solely hers she woald kili 
herself; that it was lier living and lier glory ; and llien 
she told me lier troul)ies. I ne ver liste ned to anything so 
dreadful ; I came away frozen with horror, not knowing 
whether she drank from a liking for it, or to drown tlie 
sensé of lier misery. I therefore refused Madame Saint- 
Clair. You could not imagine the lilth, the hole, the 
frightful disorder in which that woman lires. It sur- 
passes lier ugliness. That is the chief épisode of my 
week. 

In the désert of lier life that woman lias clung to my 
work as to a fruitful palm-tree, but it wiil be to lier un- 
fruitful, and I hâve no money with which to succom- 
ber. Yesterday, however, I went by chance into the rue 
Neuve-du-Luxembourg, where there is an English pastry- 
cook who makes the most delicions oyster-patties ; 1 had 
an English lady on my arm. AYhom did I fmd tliere? 
My Patrickson at table, eating and drinking. Certainly 
I am neither a monk nor a ninny, and I comprehend that 
the more unhappy one is the more compensations are 
sought, and it is lucky indeed to fmd them at a pastry- 
cook's. But the lady who was with me said she was sure 
that this unfortunate woman drank gin, for she had ail 
the characteristics of a person who drank gin. I had 
said nothing to lier abont my miss of the translations. 
But whether she drinks gin or not,- she is noue the less 
in the greatest poverty. It remains to be discovered 
whether she is in poverty because she drinks gin, or 
whether she drinks gin becanse she is misérable. As 
for me, the misery of others wrings my heart. I ne ver 
condemn the unfortunate. I a.m stoical under my own 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 463 

misfortunes; I would give my bread wbile dying of 
hunger. That has happened to me several times, and 
those I served never retarned it to me. Example: Jules 
Sandeau, who for two months never came to see me, 
and would not if I were dying. Well, though I know 
that, I don't acquire expérience. If I marry, my wife 
must rule my property and interpose between me and the 
whole world, or I shall exhaast the treasures of Aladdin 
on others. Happily, I hâve nothing. AVhen I do hâve 
something, I shall hâve to make myself fictitiously 
avaricious. 

I bave taken my mother to Poissy, to a very agreeable 
pension. I took her by the railroad, by which one goes 
very f ast. My heart bled in taking her there ; I, who hâve 
dreamed of making her a comfortable end of life with a 
fine fortune, and who advance so little that my poverty 
is becoming, as I told you, burlesque. It lias taken 
more diplomacy to get wood to burn this month than it 
would take to negotiate a treaty of peace between France 
and any power you please ten years hence. And the 
comedy gets on but slowly ; it is like my portrait, which 
I was told yesterday had arrived, but the despatching 
agent did not know in what town ! I hope it is Brody. 
God grant the same may not happen to my comedy! 
What I perceive most at this moment is the immense 
judgment that is needed for the poet of comedy. Every 
word must be a verdict pronounced on the manners and 
morals of an epoch. The subjects chosen must not be 
thin or paltry. The poet must go to the bottom of 
things ; he must steadily embrace the whole social state 
and judge it under a pleasing forai. There are a thousand 
things to say, but only the good things must be said. This 
work confounds me. I neecl not say that in saying this 1 
am considering works of genius ; for as to the thirty thou- 
sand plays given to us in the last forty years, nothing 
would be easier to write. I am absorbed by this comedy ; 



4G-i Honore de Bahar. [1831 

I think of nothing else, and eack thouglit ex tends tbe 
difh'culties. It is not only the doing of it, there is also 
the representing of it, and it may fail. I am in despair 
at not having gone to AVierzchownia and shut myself np 
this winter to keep to this work in your eenobitic life. 
I should hâve doue like Beaumarchais, who ran to read 
his comedy, scène by scène, to women, and rewrote it by 
their ad vice. 

I am now at a moment of extrême dépression. Coffee 
does nothing for me ; it does not bring to the surface the 
inner man, who stays in his prison of tlesh and bones. 
My sister is ill, and wlien Laure is ill the universe seems 
to me topsy-turvy. M y sister is ail to me in my poor ex- 
istence. I am not working with facility. I do not believe 
in what they call my talent. I spend nights in despairing. 

" La Maison Nueingen" is there in proofs before me, 
and I cannot touch it; yet it is the last link in my chain, 
and with three days' work I should break it. The braiti 
will not stir. I hâve taken two cups of clear coffee ; it is 
just as if I h ad drunk water. I am going to try a change 
of place and go to Berry, to Madame Carraud, who lias 
been expecting me thèse two years ; every three months 
I hâve said that I am going to see lier. M y little house 
will not be ready till December ; the workmen will be in it 
mit il my return. 

To erown ail troubles, no letters frora you. You might 
write to me every week, but you scarcely write every 
fortnight. You hâve much more time than I hâve, in 
your steppe, where there are neither symphonies of 
Beethoven, asphalt boulevards, opéras, newspapers, 
books to write, proofs to correct, nor other miseries, and 
where you hâve a forest of a hundred thousand acres. 
Dieu! if you had that near Paris you would hâve an 
income of two millions, and your forest would be w r orth 
fifty millions. Ail is in juxtaposition ; I am hère, and 
you are there. 



1837] Letters to Madame Jlanska. 465 

Norember 12 

Réparation to the poor miss. She drinks nothing bu\ 
water ; it was my unexpected visit that intoxicated her. 
I retract ail I wrote to you, and leave it for my punish- 
ment ; but you will not thiiik me the worse or the better 
for it. 

I am about to start for Marseille, to go to Corsica and 
from there to Sardinia. I shall try to be back the first 
week in December. It is an affair of fortune of the 
highest importance that takes me there, and I can only 
tell you about it if it fails ; for if it succeeds I must 
whisper it into the tube of your ear. It is now three 
weeks since I began to think of this journey ; but the 
money for it lacks and I do not know where to find it. I 
need about twelve hundred francs to go and get a u yes ?? 
or a " no " about a fortune, a rapid fortune, to be made 
in a few months. 1 

Addio, cara. Hère are three letters that I hâve written 
you agamst your one. I hâve ne ver seen Provence or 
Marseille, and I promise myself a little diversion on this 
trip. I shall go by the mail-cart to the sea ; the rest of 
the way by steamboat ; so that I hope to hâve finished 
my errand in lifteen clays, for no one must perceive my 
absence. My publishers would grumble. 

The tontine is withdrawn ; my works will appear purely 
and simply in parts, with steel engravings inserted in the 
text. So we fall back once more into the rut of publica- 
tions such as hâve been made for the last hundred years 
in France. 

November 13. 
My comedy has begotten a prelinynary. It is impossible 
to make " Prudhomme parvenu" without first showing 
"Prudhomme se mariant;" ail the more because " Le 

1 For the amusing history of this chimera, see his sister's account 
of it; "Memoir of Balzac," pp. 103-107. — Tu. 

30 



4G6 Honoré de Balzac, [1837 

Mariage de Prudhomme " is excellent coinedy and f ail 
of eoinic situations. 80 hère I am, with eight aets on m y 
hands instead of iive. 

November 14. 
Adieu ; I must throw mysolf into unexpected labour 
which may give me an ar admit h. I am oiïered tweuty 
tliousand francs for "César Birotteau" by December 10. 
Jt is one volume and a half to do, but my poverty bas 
niade me promise it. I must work twenty-iive nigbts and 
twenty-five days. So, to you ail tender tbings. I must 
rush to Sèvres and find tbe manuscript already begun and 
the proofs of the work. Tliere are only nine feuilles 
done, and forty-six are needed ; thirty-five to do. Tliere 's 
not a minute to be lost. Adieu, I must be twenty-five 
days witliout writing to you. 

Paius, December 20, 1837. 

I have just fmished, as I promised to do, and T wrote 
you hastily in my last letter I sliould do, ' i César Birot- 
teau." I had to do at the same time " La Maison 
Nucingen " for tbe "Presse." That is enougli to tell you 
that I am worn-out, in a state of inexpressible annihilation. 
It requires a certain effort to write to you, and I do it 
under the inspiration of horrible fears and anxieties. I 
have heard nothing from you since your number 31, dated 
October 6. You have never left me so long witliout news 
of you, and you could scarcely believe how, in the midst 
of my work, this silence lias alarmed me, for I know it is 
not witliout some reason that you have failed to write 
to me. 

To-day I can only write in haste, to tell you that I 
am not dead with fatigue or inflammation of the brain; 
that "César Birotteau" and the tîiird dizain are both 
ont; that "La Maison Nucingen," finished a month ago, 
will soon appear; that I am about to flnisli "Massimilla 
Doni;" that the édition called "Balzac Illustrated " will 



1837] Letters to Madame Hanska. 467 

appear, and vdil be an astounding thing in typography 
and engraving; tbat for twenty-five days I hâve only 
slept a few hours; that I bave been within an ace of 
apoplexy ; tbat I sball ne ver again undertake sucb a feat 
of strengtb; tbat m y cot at Sèvres is nearly built; and 
tbat you can now always address your letters to 
"Madame Veuve Durand, 13 rue des Batailles/' because 
I am still obliged to stay tbere to iinisb certain pressing 
wofks wbicb need constant communication between tbe 
printing-ofhce and me. My bouse will not be ready till 
February 15 at tbe earliest. 

My portrait makes my bead swim. I don't know 
precisely wbere it is. In any case, write to M. Halperine, 
who ougbt to bave it, or could reclaim it on tbe road 
between Strasburg and Brody. M. Hanski may not 
know tbat the Rotbscbilds do not do business with the 
Halperines, and tbeir couriers do not take cbarge of 
sucb large packages. 

I bave no interesting news to gïve you, for I bave not 
left my study and proofs since my last letter. Heine 
came to see me and told me ail about tbe L . . . affair. 
It goes beyond anytbing I bad imagined, as much for 
tlie illness as for tbe family détails. Tbe Englisb lords 
are infamous. Koreff and Wolowski are demigods; I 
do not tbink a million could pay tbem. We will talk of 
tbis later in tbe cbimney-corner. 

Perhnps you bave been away; perbaps you bave left 
Wierzcbownia to nurse your sister. My imagination 
rushes through ail the possibilities in tbe circumference 
of suppositions till it reaches tbe absurd. Wbat has 
happened to you? I see no case in wbich you would 
leave me without one word from you or another. Adieu. 
Find hère the expression of an old and tried friendship 
and the effusions of an affection that resembles no 
other. I can not write more, for I am in sucb a state of 
exhaustion tbat nothing can better prove my attacbment 



468 Honoré de Balzac. [1837 

tban tbis very letter. Nevertbeless, I must, in a few 
days, résume m y yoke of misery. Then I can write to 
you more at length and tell you ail that I keep in my 
heart. 

Remember me to ail of yours, and beg M. Hanski to 
claim the portiait from tbe Halperines, so that tbey in 
turn may inquire for it ail along tbe line. I bave been 
to see tbe sbippers bere, and I sball sue tbem if you do 
not get tbe picture within a fortnigbt. Tberefore, 
answer me by a line on tbis subject. 

Your devoted 

Noré. 



1838] Letter s to Madame Hanska. 469 



VI. 

LETTERS DURING 1838. 

Chaillot, Januarj 20, 1838. 

I am relieved of anxiety. I hâve your numbers 36 
and 37. Number 35 bas not reacbed me, remember 
that. Number 34 is dated October 6; number 36 
December 10. So y ou did not leave me from October 
6 to December 10 without a letter. Now, as I only 
receive at the end of January the 36 and 37, you can 
imagine how uneasy T liave been, left two months with- 
out a word î 

Thèse two letters are pricked in every direction, stig- 
mata of the fears inspired by the plague, and perhaps it 
is to an earlier fumigation that I owe the loss of number 
35. In any case, I ought to tell you of this loss, as it 
explains the doleful letter I wrote you last. To me it 
was a grief that consumed ail others — your silence. I 
am the object of such atrocious calumnies that I ended 
by thinking that you had been told of them, and had 
beiieved those monstrous things: that I had eaten human 
flesh, that I had married an Ellsler, or a fishwoman, 
that I was in prison, that — that — etc. I hâve, per- 
haps, enemies in the Ukraine. Distrust ail that you 
hear of me from any but myself, for you hâve almost a 
journal of my life. 

Now, as to the affair that takes me to the Mediter- 
ranean, it is neither marriage nor anything adventurous 



470 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

or silly. It is a serions and scicntiBc affair about wkich 
it is impossible to say a word beeause I am pledged to 
secrecy. Wbelber it turns ont well or ill, I risk nolbing 
but a journey, whieh wiil always be a pleasure or a 
diversion for me. 

Yon ask me how it is that, knowing ail, observing and 
penetrating ail, I can be duped and deceived. Alas! 
would yon like me it I were never duped, if I were so 
prudent, so observing that no misfortunes ever liappened 
to me? But, leaving tbe question of the beart aside, I 
will tell you tbe secret of this apparent contradiction. 
Wben a mau becomes sucb an accomplished whibt- 
player that lie knows at the iifth card played where ail 
the others are, do you think he does not like to put 
science aside and watch how the game will go by the 
laws of chance? Just so, dear and pions Catholic, God 
knew in advance that Eve would suceunib, and he let lier 
do so! But, putting aside that way of explaining the 
thing, hère is anothcr whieh you will like better. When, 
night and day, my strength and my faculties are strained 
to the utmost to compose, write, render, paint, remem- 
ber; when I take my flight slowly, painfuliy, often 
wounded, across the mental fields of literary création, 
how can I be at the same moment on the plane of mate- 
rial things? When Napoléon was at Essling he was not 
in Spam. Not to be deceived in life, in friendships, in 
business, in relations of ail kinds, dear countess 
secluded and solitary, one must do nothing else than be 
purely and simply a financier, a man of the world, a 
man of business. I do see plainly enough that persons 
deceive me, and are going to do so, that sueh a man is 
betraying me, or will betray me, and départ carrying 
with him a portion of my fleece. But at that moment 
when I feel it, foresee it, know it, I a m forced to go and 
fight elsewhere. T see it when J a m being carried away 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 471 

by some necessity of a work or event, by a sketch that 
would be lost if I clicl* not complète it. Often I am 
building a cot in the light of my burning houses. I 
bave neither friends nor servants; ail désert me; I know 
not why — or ratker, I do know it too well ; because no 
one likes or serves a m an who works night and day, who 
does nothing for their profit, who stays where he is and 
obliges them to go to him, and whose power, if power 
there be, will hâve no fruition for twenty years; it is 
because that man has the personality of his toil, and 
that ail personality is odious if it is not accompanied by 
power. Now that is enough to convince you that one 
must be an oyster (do you remember that?) or an angel 
to cling to such great human rocks. Oysters and angels 
are equally rare in humanity. Believe me, 1 see my- 
self and things as they are; never did any man bear a 
more cruel burden than mine. Do not be suiprised, 
therefore, to see me attach myself to those beings and 
those things that give me courage to live and go 
onward. Never blâme me for taking the cordial that 
enables me to get one stage farther on my way. 

It is twelve years that I hâve been saying of Walter 
Scott what you hâve now written to me. Beside him 
Lord Byron is nothing, or almost nothing. But you are 
mistaken as to the plot of "Kenilworth." To the minds 
of ail makers of romance, and to mine, the plot of that 
work is the grandest, most complète, most extraordinary 
of ail; the book is a masterpiece from this point of 
view, just as "St. Ronan's Well" is a masterpiece for 
détail and patience of finish, as the "Chronicles of the 
Canongate" are for sentiment, as "Ivanhoe" (the first 
volume, be itunderstood) is forhistory, "The Antiquary " 
for poesy, and "The Heart of Midlothian" for profound 
interest. Ail thèse works hâve each their especial merit, 
but genius shines throughout them ail. You are right; 
Scott will be growing greater when Byron is forgotten, 



472 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

except for his form and his powerful inspiration. 
Byron's brain ne ver had any other imprint than tbat of 
bis own personaîity; whereas tbe wbole world bas posed 
before tbe créative genius of Scott, and bas tbere, so to 
speak, bebeld itself. 

As for wbat is called "Balzac Illustrated," do not be 
anxious; it is tbe wbole of my work, except tbe "Contes 
Drolatiques." It is tbe work called "Etudes Sociales." 

M. Hanski is very kind to imagine tbat women fall 
in love witb autbors. I bave, and sliall bave notbing to 
fear on tbat score. I a m not only invulnérable, but 
secure from attack. Réassure bim. Tbe Englisbwoman 
of tbe times of Crébillon tbe younger is not tbe Euglish- 
woman of to-day. 

I am now beginning to work at ni3 T plays and at tbe 
"Mémoires d'une jeune Mariée, or else at "Sœur Marie 
des Anges;" fchose, for tbe time being, are my cbosen 
subjects. But from one moment to anotber ail m a y 
cbange. Tbe continuation of "Illusions Perdues" 
("Un Grand homme de Province à Paris") tempts me 
mucb; tbat, witb "La Torpille," could be finisbed tbis 
year. Hoav many stones I bring and beap up! 

Tbe text of tbe illustrated édition is revised witb so 
mucb care tbat it ought to be conside-ed tbe only one 
existing; it differs mucb from ail preceding éditions. 
Tbis typograpbic seriousness bas reacfed on tbe lan- 
guage, and I bave discovered many additional faults 
and follies; so tbat I earnestly désire tbat tbe number of 
subscribers may enable tbe publication to be continued, 
wbicb will give me tbe opportun ity to succeed in doing 
my best for my work, so far as purity of language is 
concerned. 

Tbe arrivai of tbe cassolette gave me as mucb pleasure 
as it did you; it is as if I had sent you two différent 
tbings. I now bope tbat by tbis time Boulanger's 
portrait bas reacbed you. Brullon, tbe colour and can- 



1838] Letters to Madame IlansJca. 473 

vas dealer whom ail tbe great artists hère employ, and 
who despatched the case, is in despair; we consult each 
other as to going to law about it; but as sueh a suit 
would bring M. Hanski's name before the public, and 
the newspapers would get hold of it and make their 
thousand and one calumnious eomments, — for my name 
would whet their appetite, — we keep to the line of corre- 
spondence. Brullon has sent thousands of pictures to 
ail parts of the world, and nothing of the kiud ever hap- 
pened before. It is true that the case was sent by 
waggon, because, as the canvas was not rolled, its size 
would not allow of its going by diligence. You could 
not believe what errands, steps, and tramps that luckless 
picture has necessitaied; but I will not say more about 
them, lest I make the portrait disagreeable to you. I 
hâve written to-day to the MM. Halperine at Brody to 
know if, when my letter reaches them, they hâve the 
picture. If not, we may hâve to corne to an arbitration 
hère on the matter. 

The great Tronchin cùred the headaches of young 
girls which you mention, by making them eat a roll 
soaked in milk on waking; the thing is innocent enough 
to try. 

Be very sure that you will know ail I do at the moment 
of doing it, or as soon as I can manage it. I wrote you 
of my departure for Sion a year ago, at this time, or 
very near it. I did not leave Paris a month ago, after 
finishing u César Birotteau." As I had been twenty-five 
days without sleep, I hâve now been a month employed 
in sleeping sixteen hours a day and in doing nothing the 
other eight. I a m renewing my brain to spend it again 
immediately. Financial crises are dreadful ; they pre- 
vent me from amusing myself ; for society is expensive, 
and I am not sure whether I may not, within a week or 
ten days, go to Sardinia. But I will not start without 
letting you know. 



474 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

I never reacl tlie newspapcrs, so tbat I was ignorant of 
what you tell me about Jules Janin. Some persons had 
easually said to nie that the papers, and Janin espeeially, 
iiad greatly praised me in connection with a little play 
taken t'rom "La Pecherehe de l'Absolu" which failed. 
lUit I am, as you know, indiffèrent to both tbe blâme 
and the eulogy of those who are not tbe elect of my 
beart; and espeeially so to tbe opinions of tbe press and 
tbe crowd ; tberefore I know notbing to tell you about 
tbe conversion of a maii I neitber like nor esteem, and 
one who will never ol)lain auytbing from me. As I 
do not know bis friends or bis eneinies, I am ignorant 
of bis motives for tbis praise, wbicb, from wbat you tell 
me of it, seems treacberous. 

Every tiine tbat you bear it said tbat I bave failed on 
points of bonour and personal self -respect, do not 
believe it. 

You bave misunderstood me; I like mucb tbat a 
woman sbould write and study; but sbe ougbt to bave 
tbe courage, as you bave, to burn ber works. Sophie is 
tbe daugbter of Prince Koslevski, whose marriage was 
never recognized; you must bave beard of tbat very 
witty diplomatist, who is with Prince Paskevitcb in 
Warsaw. Tbe Engiish lady is tbe Countess Guidoboni- 
Visconti, at wbose house I met tbe bearer of tbe eassoJetlr. 
Mrs. Somerville is tbe illustrious matbematician, daugbter 
of Admirai Fairfax, who is now in tbe Pussian service. 
I send you ber autograpb, for sbe is one of tbe great 
ligbts of modem science, and parliament bas given ber a 
national pension. 

You will know from others tbat the Italian Opéra- 
bouse was burned down at tbe saine time as tbe Poyai 
Excbange in London and tbe Impérial Palace at Saint- 
Petersburg. I will tell you notbing of ail tbat. Tbe 
winter is severe in Paris; we do not know bow to protect 
ourselves from cold, — crreless Frenchmen tbat we are. 



1838] Letters to Madame Hamka. 475 

Mouday, January 22. 

Four Parts of "La Peau de Chagrin" bave appeared, 
this frosty winter. In spite of the cold I meet in the 
Champs Llysées fiacres driven slowly along with their 
blinda down, which shows that people love each other in 
Paris in spite of everything; and those fiacres seem to 
me as magnificently passionate as the two lovers whom 
Diderot surprised in a pouring rain, bidding each other 
good-night in the street beneath a gutter! 

Do not end your letters gloomily, as, for instance, by 
thinking that I shall never visit Wierzchownia; I shall 
corne soon, believe me ; but I am not the master of cir- 
cumstances, which are peculiarly hard upon me. It 
would take too long to explain to y ou how my new 
editors interpret the agreement which binds me to them, 
and this letter is already very long. 

After idling a little for a month, going two or three 
times to the Opéra, twice to La Belgiojoso, and often to 
La Visconti (speaking Italianly), I am now beginning 
once more my twelve or fifteen hours' w r ork a day. 
When my house is buill, when I am well installed there, 
when I hâve earned a certain number of thousand francs, 
then I am pledged to myself as a reward to go and see 
y ou, not for one or two weeks, but for two or three 
months. You shall work at my comédies, and we, M. 
Hanski and I, will go to the Indies astride of those 
smoking benches you tell me of. 

I don't know what " César Birotteau " is. You will tell 
me before I am in a state to make myself into the public 
that reacls it. T hâve the deepest disgust for it, and I 
am ready to curse it for the fatigues it bas causée! me. 
If my ink looks pale to you, it is because it freezes 
every night in my study. 

You hâve heard about La Belgiojoso and Mignet. 
The princess is a woman much outside of other women, 
little attractive, twenty-nine years old, paie, black hair, 



476 Honore de Balzac. [1838 

Italian-white complexion, thin, and playing tbe vampire. 
Sbe bas tbe good fortune to displease me, tbougb sbe is 
élever; but sbe tries for eiïect too mueb. I saw ber first 
iive years ago at Gérard' s; sbe came from Switzerland, 
wbere sbe bad taken refuge. Since tlien, sbe bas recov- 
ered ber fortune tbrougb influence of tbe Foreign Office, 
and now bolds a salon, wbere people say good tbings. 
I went tberc one Saturday, but tbat will be ail. 

I bave just read u Aymar," by Henri de Latonebe; 
bis is a poor mind, falling into cbildisbness. "Lau- 
tréamont," by Sue, is a work Incité, as tbe painters say; 
it is neitber doue, nor could it be done. To second- 
rate minds, to persons witbout éducation, or tbose. wbo, 
being ill-informed or informed by préjudice, bave not 
tbe courage to correct for tbemselves tbe false bias 
given to tbem and are conteut to accept judgments 
ready-made witbout taldng tbe trouble to discuss tbem, 
Louis XIV. is a petty mind and a bad king. 1 II i s 
faults and bis errors are counted to bim as crimes, 
wbereas be exactly fulfilled tbe prédiction of Mazarin: 
be was. botb a great king and an bonest m an. Ile may 
be blamed for bis wars and bis rigorous treatment of 

1 Tins lctter is among those which Mme. de Balzac gave to tlie 
Etiition Définitive [vol. xxiv., pp. 273-282]. The passage relating to 
Louis XIV 7 . is so evidently false in " Lettres à l'Etrangère " that I 
give it hère in Mme. de Balzac's version. J21 " lettres à l'Etrangère " 
it begins thus : " To well-informed minds Louis XIV. is a petty mind, 
a man nul." This being totally ont of keeping wirh Balzac's pnblislicd 
o])inion of Louis XIV. [" Six Kois de France," Éd. Déf., vol. xxiii., pp. 
525-535, writteu in 1837], I think it more just to Balzac to folio \v liis 
vvifVs version hère. The following passages are from " Six Kois de 
France " and give his opinion brierly : " lie Iiad known adversity 
and even misfortune in his youth ; it was, no doubt, to this circum- 
stance that lie owed the perspicacity, the knowledge of man that dis- 
tinguished him almost constant!}-." " This prince, in his adversity, 
remained ever worthy of the title of Great, winch history lias pre- 
served to him." See Appendix concerning Mme. llanska's letters in 
the Édition Définitive. — Tu. 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 477 

Protestants; but he always had in view the grandeur of 
France, and his wars were a means to secure it. They 
served, according to his ideas, to guarantee us against 
our two greatest enemies at that period, Spain and Eng- 
land. After having, tbrongb the possession of Flanders 
and Alsace, established solid frontiers against Germany, 
he preserved France from Spanish intrigues by the con- 
quest of Franche-Comté. Having thus given security 
to his people, he gave them a splendour which dazzled 
the world, and a grandeur which subdued it. One must 
indeed be neither a Frenchman nor a man of sensé to 
blâme him stupidly for that affair of the Chevalier de 
Rohan, a presumptuous fool and a State criminal, who 
was negotiating with a foreign country, selling France, 
and striving to light civil war, — a man whom the king 
had the ri'ght to condemn and punish according to the 
laws of the kingdom he governed. But, as you say, 
Sue has a narrow and bourgeois mind, incapable of 
understanding the ensemble of such grandeur; he sees 
only scraps of the vulgar and commonplace evil of our 
présent pitiable society. He has felt himself crushed 
by the gigantic spectacle of the great century, and he 
has resented it by calumniating the fmest and greatest 
epoch of our history, dominated by the powerful and 
fruitful influence of the greatest of our kings; pronounced 
Great by his contemporaines, and against whom even 
his enemies invented no other sarcasm than to call him 
"le roi soleil." 

To-morrow, Tuesday, 23rd, I shall begin to finish 
"Massimilla Doni," which requires great study of music, 
and will oblige me to go and hear played and replayed 
to me Rossini's " Moïse," by a good old German 
musician. 

You would hardly believe with what résignation I 
face the dull and malignant abuse which the publication 
of "Massimilla Doni " will bring down upon me. Seen 



478 Honore de Balzac. [1838 

on one side only, it is truc that the suhject is open to 
criticism ; it will be said that I ara obscène. But look- 
ing at tbe psycbieal subject, it is, as I tbink, a marvel. 
But I bave long been used to sueh detraction. There 
aie persons wbo still persist in considering u La Peau 
de Chagrin" as a novel. But then, serions people and 
tbe appreciators of that composition are daily gaining 
ground. Five years bence ^Massimilia Doni"will be 
understood as a beautiful explanation of tbe inner 
process of art. To tbe eyes of ordinary readers it will 
be only wbat it is apparently, a lover who cannot possess 
tbe woman be adores because be desires ber too much, 
and so is won by a misérable créature. Make tbem per- 
ceive from that tbe conception of works of art! 

Adieu, cara. A thousand tender effusions of fiïend- 
ship, and remember me to ail about you. Tbis is a long 
chatter; I bave been writing it during tbree days, and 
doing little else. But it is so good to tbink to you! 
Tbink of me as of one entirely devoted, grieved when 
be gets no letters, bappy when be shares 3 T our lonely 
life, for be too is lonely amid tbis Parisian bustle. 

Frapesle, near Tssoudun, Feliruary 10, 1838. 

I bave just received your little number 38, and at tbe 
moment that I read it you must bave in youv Iiands tlie 
ratber long letter in winch I explaincd my fears and 
m a de tbe inquiry to wbicb you now reply. 

I am tbankful to know m^^self in painting at Berditcbef, 
for in my uneasiness about that wretcbed canvas I was 
about to sue tbe despatcber of it. I am curions to know 
wbat you will tbink of the work. It is now said that 
Boulanger bas not given a delicacy that lurks under the 
roundness of tbe lines, that he bas exaggernted the char- 
acter of my ratber tranquil strengtb, and bestowed upon 
me a bectoring and aggressive expression. Tlmt is 
wbat sculptors and painters said to me a few days before 



1838] Letters to Madame Jffanska. 479 

I left Paris, at a dinner at M. de Castellane's, who is 
having some plays aeted in private at bis house. The 
merit of Boulanger is in the lire of the eyes, the material 
truth of outline, and the rich colouring. In spite of 
thèse criticisms, which concern only the moral resem- 
blance — so elosely united, however, to physical resem- 
blance — ■ they ail said it was one of the finest spécimens 
of the school for the last ten years ; so I reflected that, 
at least, yoa would not hâve a daub in your gallery. 
We shall see what y ou say to it. 

I came hère worn-out with fatigue. The body is 
relaxing. I hâve corne to do, if I can, the preliminary 
play of which I spoke to you, and the second Part of 
4 'Illusions Perdues," the first Part of which pleased you 
so much. I shall stay in Berry till the middle of 
March. 

They write me from Paris that "César Birotteau," 
after two months' incognito, is obtaining a success of 
enthusiasm, and that in spite of the silence of some 
newspapers, and the cruel civilities of others, it is being 
borne to the clouds above "Eugénie Grandet," with 
which they crush down so many other things of mine. I 
tell you that idiocy of Parisians, because you look upon 
such things benignly as events. 

Now that I see my inventions to give you little 
pleasures reach you, write me what Anna would like foi' 
lier birthday. I hâve an opportunity to send to Riga. 
Riga is not far from you, and I will tell you where to 
send -for your idol's gif t. Do you want any of that 
Miîanese silver fîlagree, or anything in the way of 
Parisian taste? And if at our coming Exhibition M. 
Hanski wants one or two good pictures, well chosen, to 
increase his collection, some of those things that become 
in time of great value, tell him to feel sure that I am at 
his orders, and at yours equalîy. 

You could not believe how much I thought of you in 



480 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

crossing La Beauce and Berry, for tbey are your Ukraine 
on a small scale, and every time I cross them my 
tbought is tixed on Wierzehownia. Tbey are two very 
bigb plateaus, for at Issoudun we are six bundred feet 
above sea-level, and tbere is notbing on tbem but wheat- 
fields, vineyards, and woods. In Beauce, however, tbe 
land is so precious tbat not a single tree is planted. 
You \vill see tbat melancboly landscape some day, when 
you corne to France, and perbaps, like me, you will not 
sbare tbe feeling it inspires in ordinary trave'lers. 

I do not know if tbey told me truly, or if tlie per- 
son who told me was told truly, but m y publisbers are 
boasting tbat tbey bave sold five tbousand of tbe Illus- 
trated Balzac, which leads one to suppose tbat, time and 
friendsbip aiding, \ve may sell ten tbousand. Tben 
ail my financial misfortunes will cease in ISoi). Gcd 
grant itî 

Do not play tbe coquette about your tbirty-tbird anni- 
versary; you know well wbat I think about tbe âge of 
women, and if you waiit me to give you new éditions of 
it, I sball think you very greedy of compliments. Tbere 
are women who will always be young, and you are one of 
tbem; youtb cornes from tbe soûl, Never lose tbat inno- 
cent gaiety wbicb is one of your greatest cbarms; it 
makes you able to think aloud to every one, and tbat 
will keep you young a long time. In spite of wbat you 
say, tbere are, I think, few clouds above tbe lake of your 
tboughts, but always tbe infinité of bine skies. 

If you hâve a trame ma de for my portrait, and it 
requires one, bave it made in black velvet. Tbat is 
economical and beautiful, and very favourable to Bou- 
langer' s colour and tones. 

Remember tbat notbing leads to tbe malady of Lady 
L . . . so surely as tbe mystical ecstasies of wbich you 
tell me in Séverine' s sister; believe me, for it was in 
tbis way tbat tbe pure and sublime young daugbter of 



1838] Lettevs to Madame Ilanska. 481 

Madame de Berny became insane. The mother died of 
that, as well as of tbe death of her son. Wbat did she 
not say to me on the absurdity of oui* moralities, in the 
paroxysm of her sorrow! And what appalling mother- 
cries ! 

I beg you never to say to me in a letter, u If I die.." 
I hâve causes enough for melancholy, and dread, and 
gloomy black dragons, without the added waves of 
bitterness that my blood rushes to my heart under the 
sudden faintness that those words cause me. 

Gracious greetings to tutti quanti, and to you, ail 
tenderness. I reread at this moment the silly verses in 
which I fold my letter, and I send you, laughing, the 
bornage of a poor collegian — for the ruled paper reveals 
the âge of seventeen and its illusions. 

Frapesle, Mardi 2, 1838. 

Cara contessina ; I am hère, without having done a 
single thing that is worth anything. I am a little better, 
that is ail. I hâve been ill of a malady that love abhors, 
caused by the quality of the drinking water, which con- 
tained calcareous deposits. Hence, complète dissolution 
of my brain forces. Poor human beings! See on what 
famé dépends, and the créations of thought! Madame 
Carraud thinks I hâve escaped an illness; it is very 
sure that I hâve escaped making a comedy or a bad 
novel. 

I heard that George Sand was at her country-place 
at Nohant, a few leagues from Frapesle, so I went to 
pay her a visit. You will therefore hâve your wished- 
for autographs: one of George Sand, which I send you 
to-day; the other, signed Aurore Dndevant, you shall 
receive in my next letter. Thus you will hâve the curious 
animal under both aspects. But there is still another ; 
the nickname, given by her friends, of "le docteur 
Piffoël." When that reaches me I will send it. As you 

31 



482 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

are a curious eminentissime or an eminentissime curious 
person, 1 will relate to y ou my visit. 

I arrivée! at tbe Château de Nohant ou Shrove Sature! ay, 
about half-past seven in tbe evening, and I found eom- 
rade George Sanel in lier dressing-gown, smoking a eignr 
after dinner in the ehimney-corner of an immense soli- 
tary chamber. She was wearing pretty yeliow slippers 
trimmed with fringe, coquettisli stockings, and red 
trousers. So niucli for the moral. Physically, she has 
doublée! lier chin like a monk. She has not a single 
white haïr in spite of her dreadfuï troubles; her swarthy 
skin has not varied; her beautiful eyes aie still daz- 
zling; she has the saine stupid look when she thinks, for, 
as I told her, after studying her, ail her physiognoni} 7 is 
in her eye. She has been at Nohant a year, very sad, 
and working enormously. She leads about the same 
life as mine. She goes to bed at six in the morning and 
rises at midday ; I go to bed at six in the evening and 
rise at midnight. But, naturally, I conformed to her 
hal)its; and for three days we talked from five o'clock, 
after dinner, tiil live next morning; so that I knew her 
better, and reeiproeally, in those three talks, than during 
the four preceding years, when she came to my house at 
the lime she loved Jules Sandeau, and was connectée! 
with Musset. She knew me only as I went to see her 
n ow a ne! then. 

It was useful for me to see her, for we maele mutual 
confidences on the subject of Jules Sandeau. I, who am 
the last to blâme her for that désertion, hâve nothing now 
but the deepest compassion for her, as 3 7 ou will hâve for 
me when you know with whom we hael to elo, she, in 
love; 1, in friendship. 

She was, however, even more unliappy with Musset; 
and she is now in deep retirement, condemning both 
marriage anel love; beeause in both states she has met 
with nothing but eleceptions. 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 483 

lier maie is rare, that is tbe whoie of it. He is tbe 
more so because sbe is not lovable, and, consequently, 
will always be diffîcuit to love. Sbe is a lad, she is 
an artist, sbe is grand, generous, devoted, cbaste; sbe 
bas tbe great linéaments of a man: ergo, sbe is not a 
woman. I did not fee], any more tban I formerly felt 
wben beside ber, attacked by tbat gallantry of tbe 
epklermis wbicb one ougbt to employ in France and 
Poland towards every species of woman. I talked as 
witb a comrade. Slie bas Jofty virtues, of tbe kind tbat 
society takes tbe wrong way. We discussed, witb a 
gravity, good faitb, candor, and conscience wortby of 
tbe great sbepberds wbo leacl berds of men, tbe grand 
questions of marriage and liberty: "For," as sbe said 
to me witb immense pride (I sbould never bave darecl to 
tbink it for mvself), "altbough by oui* writings we are 
preparing a révolution for future manners and morals, I 
am not less struck by tbe objections to tbe one tban by 
tbose to tbe otber." 

We talked a wbole nigbt on tbis great problem. I am 
altogetber for tbe liberty of tbe young girl and tbe 
slavery of tbe wife; tbat is to say, I wisb tbat before 
marriage sbe sbould know wbat sbe binds berself to, 
tbat sbe sbould study it ail, because, wben sbe bas 
signed tbe contract and experienced its cbances sbe 
must be faitbful to it. I gained a great deal in making 
Madame Dudevant recognize tbe necessity of marriage; 
but sbe will believe it, I am sure, and I tbink I bave 
doue good in proving it to ber. 

Sbe is an excellent motber, adored by ber cbildren; 
but sbe dresses ber daughter Solange as a boy, wbicb is 
not rigbt. Moral! y ^ sbe is like a young man of twenty, 
for sbe is inwardly cbaste and priidish ; sbe is only an 
artist externally. Sbe smokes immoderately ; plays tbe 
princess a little too much, perbaps ; and I am convinced 
tbat she bas faitbfuîly painted berself in tbe princess of 



484 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

her "Secrétaire intime." She knows, and saicl, of her- 
self just what 1 think, without m y saying it to lier, 
uamely: that she lias neithcr force of conception, nor 
gift of eonstmcting plots, nor faculty of reachiug the 
true, nor the art of pathos, but — without knowing the 
French language — she has style ; and that is true. 

She takes lier faine, as I do mine, in jest, and she has 
a piofound contempt for the public, calling it Jumento. 

I will relate to you the immense and secret dévotion 
of this woman for those two men, and you will say to 
yourself that there is nothing in common between angels 
and devils. AU the follies that she lias committed are 
titles to famé in the eyes of great and noble soûls. She 
was duped by Madame Dorval, Bocage, Lamennais, 
etc., etc. Through the saine sentiment she is now the 
dupe of Listz and Madame d'Agoult; but she has just 
corne to see it as to that pair as she did in the case of la 
Dorval; she has one of those minds that are powerful in 
the study, through intellect, and extremely easy to entrap 
on tlie domain of realities. 

Apropos of Listz and Madame d'Agoult, she gave me 
the subject of u Les Galériens," or "Amours forcés," 
which I am going to write; for in her position she can- 
not do so. Keep that secret. In short, she is a man, 
and ail the more a man because she wants to be one, 
because she has corne ont of womanhood, and is not a 
woman. Woman aftracts, and she repels; and, as I am 
very much of a man, if she produces that effect on me 
she must produce it on ail men who are like me; she 
will ahvays be unhappy. Tinis, slie now loves a man 
who is inferior to her, and in that contract there can be 
on! y déception and disenchantment for a woman with a 
fine soûl. A woman ought ahvays to love a man superior 
to herself, or eîse be so well deceived that it Avili be as 
if it were so. 

J did not stay at Noliant with impunity; I brouglit 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 485 

away a monstrous vice; she made me smoke a bookah 
and latakia; and they hâve suddenly become a necessity 
to me. Tliis transition will help me to give up coffee 
and vary the stimulant I need for work; I thought of 
you. I want a fine, good bookah, with a lid or extra- 
bowl; and, if you are very amiable, you will get me 
one in Moscow; for it is tliere, or in Constantinople, tbat 
the best can be had. Be friendly enough to write at 
once to Moscow, so tliat the parcel may reach me with 
the least possible delay. But on condition only that you 
tell me what you want in Paris, so that I hâve my bookah 
only as barter. If you can also find true latakia in 
Moscow, send me five or six pounds, as opportunities 
are rare to get it from Constantinople. And dare I also 
ask you not to forget the caravan tea you promised me? 

I am mucb of a child, as y oh know. If it is possible 
that the décoration of the bookah should be in turquoise, 
that would please me, ail the more because I want to 
attach to the end of the tube the knob of my cane, which 
I am prevented from carrying by the notoriety given to 
it, If you wish, I will send you a set of Parisian pearls, 
sucli as you liked; the mounting will be so artistic that, 
althougli the pearls are only Parisian, you will bave a 
work of art. Say yes, if you love me. Yes, is n't it? 

I wili write you a liue from Paris, for I must go to 
Sardinia. Pray to God tbat I may succeed, for if I do, 
my joy will carry me to Wierzcbownia. I shall hâve 
libertyî no more cares, no more material worries; I 
shall be rich! 

Adrfio, car a contessina^ for the post bas imperious and 
self-willed bours. Tbink that in fifteen days I shall be 
sailing on the Mediterranean. Ah! from there to 
Odessa, it is ail sea — as they say in Paris, it is ail 
pavement. From Odessa to Berditchef it is but a step. 

I send you my tender regards, and friendly ones to 
M. Hanski, with ail remembrances to your young com- 



48b Honoré de Balzac. [i s;$s 

panions. You ought io be, as I wrife, in full cnjoyment 
of the Boulanger, and I livrait wilh impatience your 
sorro saiact tllcb on the work of the painter. 

Think that if I pray it is for you; if I ask God for 
anyfhing with that cowl lowcred it î>s for you, and that 
(lie fat monk now before you is cver the moujik of your 
lofty and powerful mind. 

llave you read "Birotteau " ? After that book I shall 
deeidedly write k 'La Première Demoiselle; " then a love- 
book, very coquettish, "Les Amours forces." It is for 
tliose who hase the adorable sweetness lo love aeeording 
to the laws of tlieir own heart, and to pity the galley- 
slaves of love. 

Ajaccïo, ?»Iakcii 26, 1838. 

(/ara coitti'ssuut, l did not hâve a moment to myseîf in 
whieh to write to you from Paris on m y return from 
Berry. The above date will show you that ï am twenty 
hours from Sardinia, where L make my expédition. I 
a m waiting for an opportun ity to cross over to that 
island., and on arrivai 1 shall hâve to do five days' 
quarantine, — for Itaiy will not give up that custom. 
They believe in contagion and choiera; it broke ont 
in Marseille six months ago, and they still continue 
tlieir useless précautions. 

During the few days I remained in Paris I liad cndless 
didiculties to conquer in order to make my journey; 
money was laboriously oblained, for money is scarce 
with me. When you know that this entemrise is a 
desperate effort to put an end to the perpétuai stnii^le 
between fortune and me, you will not be surprised bylt. 
I risk only a month of my time and fiye liundred francs 
for a fairly fine fortune. M. Carraud deeided me; T 
submitted my conjectures, whieh are scientific in tlieir 
nature, to him, and as he is one of îhose great smunifs 
who do nothing, pu])lish nothing, and live in idîeness, 



1838] Letters to Madame Uanska. 487 

his opinion was given, without any restriction, in favour 
of my ideas, — ideas tbat I can only communicate to you 
by word of mouth if I succeed, or in my next letter if I 
fail. Successful or unsuccessful, M. Carraud says tbat 
he respects sucb an idea as much as a fine discovery, 
considering it an ingénions tbing. M. Carraud was for 
twenty years director of our Military Scbool of Saint- 
Cyr; be is tbe intimate friend of Biot, whom I bave 
often beard déplore,* in tbe interest of science, tbe inac- 
tion in wbicb M. Carraud now lives. 

In trutb, tbere is no scientific problem tbat be cannot 
discuss admirably wben questioned; but tbe trouble is 
tbat tbese vast matbematical minds judge life by wbat 
it is, and, not seeing a logical conclusion of it, tbey 
await deatb to be rid of tbeir time. Tbis vegetable 
existence is tbe despair of Madame Carraud, wbo is full 
of soûl and fire. Sbe was stupefied on bearing M. 
Carraud déclare, wben I submitted my conjectures to 
bim, tbat be would go witb me, be wbo never leaves the 
bouse even to look after bis own estate. However, tbe 
natural man returned, and be gave up tbe project. His 
opinion ended by bringing my own incandescence to tbe 
bigbest point; and in spite of tbe terrible equinox in tbe 
Gulf of Lyon, in spite of five days and four nigbts to 
spend in a diligence, I started. I bave suiïered mucb, 
especially at sea. But bere I am, in tbe native town of 
tbe Napoléons, giving myself to ail tbe devils bccause I 
am obliged to wait for tbe solution of my problem 
within twenty hours' distance of tbat problem. One 
mnst not tbink of goiug tbrougb Corsica to the straits 
whicb separate it from Sardinia, for tbe land journey is 
long, dangerous, andcostly, botb in Corsica and Sardinia. 
Ajaccio is an intolérable place. I know no one, and 
there is no one to know. Civil ization is what it is in 
Greenland ; the Corsicans do not like strangers. T am 
wrecked, as it were, on a granité rock ; I go and look at 



488 Honoré de Balzac [1838 



over 



tlie sea and return to dinner, go co bed, and begin 
again, — not daring to work, because at any moment I 
may start ; tbis situation is the antipodes of my nature, 
Avhicli is ail résolution, ail activity. 

I bave been to see the house where Napoléon was 
boni; it is now a poor hovel. 1 bave rectitied a few 
mistakes. Ilis father was a rather ricb land-owner, and 
not a cierk, as several lying biographies bave said. 
Also, when Napoléon reached Ajacoio on bis return froni 
Egypt, instead of being received by acclamations, as 
bistorians déclare, and obtaining a gênerai triumph, be 
was sbot at, and a priée was put upon bis bead; tbey 
showed me tbe lit lie beacb where be landed. Ile owed 
bis li le to the courage and dévotion of a peasant, who 
took hini to the mountains and put bini in an inacces- 
sible retreat. It was the nephew of tbe mayor of Ajaccio 
who put the priée upon bis head, tbat told me thèse 
détails. After Napoléon was First Consul the peasant 
went to see bim. Napoléon asked bim what be wanted. 
The peasant asked for one of bis father's estâtes, called 
"Il Piintano," whicb was wortb a million. Napoléon 
gave it to bim. Tbe son of tbat peasant is to-day one 
of tbe ricbest men in Corsica. 

Napoléon bad already given bis father's estâtes to tbe 
"Ramolini, bis mofber's family, — baving no rigbt to do 
so. The Bonapartes said nothing, for during bis power 
tbey obtained everything from bim. Since bis deatb, 
an(î recently, tbey bave brougbt su ils to recover tbis 
propert} T from the Ramolini. 

Pozzo di Porgo triumphs in Corsica as be triumpbed 
over bis enemy Napoléon, — Metternicli, Wellington, 
and Talleyrand aiding. Ilis nephew, who is paymaster 
bere, bas an income of more than one bundred tbousand 
francs. I am iodging in one of bis bouses. 

T am going to Snssari, the second capital of Sardinia, 
and shall stay tbere a few days. What I bave to do 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 489 

there is a sinall matter for the moment; the grand ques- 
tion, whether or not I am mistaken, will be décidée! in 
Paris; it sutrîces if I can procure a spécimen of the 
thing. Do not crack jour brains in trying to find out 
what it can be; you will never discover it. 

I am so weary of the struggle about which I hâve so 
often told you, that now it must end, or I shall suc- 
cumb. Hère are ten years of toil without any fruit; 
the only certain results are calumnies, insults, and law- 
suits. You tell me as to that the noblest things in the 
world; but I answer you that ail men hâve but one 
quantum of strength, blood, courage, hope; and mine is 
exhausted. You are ignorant of the extent of my suffer- 
ings; I ought not, and I could not tell you ail of them. 
I hâve renounced happiness, but in default of that I 
must, at least, hâve tranquillity. I hâve therefore 
formed two or three plans for fortune. This is the first; 
if it fails, I shall go to the second. After which, I 
shall résume my peu, which I shall not hâve eutirely 
relinquished. 

Yesterday I wanted to write to you, but I was over- 
come by gleams of an inspiration which clictated the 
plot of a comedy that you hâve already condemned: 
"La Première Demoiselle" [afterwards "L'École des 
Ménages "]. My sister thought it superb ; George Sand, 
to whom I related it at Nouant, predicted the greatest 
success; it was this that made me take it in hand again, 
and the most difficult part is now done; namely, & that 
which is caJled the scénario, — the arrangement of ail the 
scènes, the entrances and exits, etc. I undertook the 
"Physiologie du Mariage" and the "Peau de Chagrin" 
against the advice of the angel whom I hâve lost. I am 
now, during this delay iii my journey, undertaking this 
play against yours. 



490 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

Ajaccio, Mardi 27. 
I don't know from wbere I can send you this letter, 
for I bave so little money that I must consider a postage 
that costs five francs ; but from Sassari I go to Genoa, 
and from Genoa to Milan, That is the least expensive 
way of returning, on account of not being forced to stay 
any wbere, because opportunities are fréquent. In Milan 
I bave a banker on wliom I can couiit; in Genoa also. 
Therefore, you must not be snrprised at the great delay 
of this letter. After leaving Corsica, I sball probably 
bave neitber time nor facilitiez for writing; but the 
letler is ail ready, and I sball pay the postage when I 
can. 

The Mediterranean bas been very bad; there are 
mercliants hère who tliink their ships are lost. To risk 
as little as possible, I took the land route from Marseille 
to Toulon, and the steamboat that carries despatches 
from Toulon hère. Nevertheless, I Bufïered terribly, 
and spent much inoney. I think, however, that the 
sea route to Odessa would be the safest, most direct, 
and least costly way of going to you. From Marseille 
to Odessa by sea it is only four hundred francs. From 
Odessa to Berditcbef it oughtnot to cost much, especially 
if you came to Kiew to meet me. You see that wherever 
I go I think of your dear Wierzchownia. 

Corsica is one of the most beautiful countries in the 
world; there are mountains as in Switzerland, but no 
lakes. France is not making the most of this fine 
country. It is as large as ten of our departments, but 
does not yield as much as one of them ; it ought to hâve 
five million of inhabitants, but there are barely three 
hundred thousand. We are beginning to make roads 
and clear forests which will yield immense weaîth, like 
the soil, which is now compleîelv negiected. There may 
be the finest mines in the world of marble, coal, and 
metals, etc. ; but no one bas studied the country, on 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 491 

account of bandits ancl tbe savage state in which it is 
left. 

In the midst of my maritime sufferings on tbe steam- 
boat I betbougbt me of tbe indiscrétion I committed in 
asking you to get me a bookab from Moscow, in my 
passionate avdour for tbe latakia which I smoked at 
George Sand's, and wbicb Lamartine bad brougbt ber. 
I was so spasmodically unhappy about it tbat I laugb 
now as I remember my sickness. I ara sorry I could 
not get a bookab in Paris; it would bave wiled away 
my time bere and dispelled tbe ennui wbicb, for tbe 
first time in my life, bas laid bold upon me; tbis is 
tbe first time tbat I bave known wbat a désert witb semi- 
savages upon it is. 

Tbis morning I bave learned tbat tbere is a library 
bere, and to-morrow, at ten o'clock, I can go tbere to 
read. Wbat? Tbat is an anxious question. Tbere are 
in tbis place neitber reading-rooms, nor women, nor popu- 
lar tbeatres, nor society, nor newspapers, nor any of tbe 
impurities tbat proclaim civilization. Tbe women do 
not like foreigners ; tbe men walk about tbe w T bole day, 
smoking. Tbe laziness is incredible. Tbere are eigbt 
tbousand soûls, mucb poverty, and extrême ignorance of 
tbe simplest current events. I enjoy a complète incog- 
nito. No one knows wbat literature or social life is. 
Tbe men wear velveteen jackets; tbere is so mucb sim- 
plicity in clotbing tbat I, wbo bave dressed myself to 
seem poor, look like a rich man. Tbere is a Frencb 
batfalion bere, and you sbould see the poor offîcers, 
idling in tbe streets* from morning till nigbt. Tbere 
is nothing to do! I sball now begin to sketcb scènes 
and lay ont projects. I must work witb fury. How 
people must love on tbis désert rock! and truly tbe 
place swarms witb cbildren, like gnats of a summer's 
evening. 

Adieu for to-day. I was only eigbteen bours at Mar* 



492 Honoré de Balzac. [1838 

seille and ten at Toulon, and so could not write to you 
until to-day. 

Ajaccio, April 1. 

I leave to-morrow for Sardinia in a little row-boat. I 
bave just re-read what I wrote to you, and I see I did 
not finish about the hookab. You understand that if it 
gives you the least trouble you are to drop my commis- 
sion. As for the latakia, 1 hâve just diseovered (laugh 
at me for a whole year) that Latakia is a village of the 
island of Cyprus, a stone's throw from hère, where a 
superior tobacco is made, named from the place, and 
that I can get it herc. So mark ont that item. 

I hâve just seen a poor French soklier who lost both 
hands by a cannon-ball, and bas nothing but stumps; 
he earns bis living by writing, beating a drum, playing 
the violin, playing at cards, and shaving in the streets. 
If I had not seen it I never shouJd believe it. 

The Ajaccio library bas nothing. I bave re-read 
"Clarissa Harlowe," and read for the first time "Pamela " 
and "Sir Charles Grandison," wliich I found horribly 
dull and stupid. What a fate for Cervantes and Richard- 
son to bave been able to do but one work ! The same 
might be said of Sterne. 

I bave had the mi s fortune to be recognized by a 
cursed law-student of Paris, just retui-ned to make bim- 
self a lawyer in bis own land. He had seen me in Paris. 
Hence an article in a Corsican paper. And I, who 
wanted to keep my journey as secret as possible! Alas, 
alasî What a bore! Is there no way for me to do 
either good or evil witbout publicity ? Tins is the eiglith 
day of my placid life. But Ajaccio is like one house- 
bold. 

I bave had a great escape. If I had not taken the 
route I did take, and had corne direct from Marseille, 
I should bave encountered a dreadful tempest which 
wrecked three ships on the coast. 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 498 

Ajaccio, April 2. 

This evening, at ten o'clock, a little boat will carry 
me away; theii 1 bave five days' quarantine at Algliiero, 
a little harbour y ou may see on tlie map of Sardinia. 
It is there, between Alghiero and Sassari, lhat tbe dis- 
trict of Argentara lies, and it is there tbat 1 am going 
to see mines, abandoned at tbe lime of the discovei'y of 
America. I cannot tell you more than tbat. 

When tbis letter is in your possession in tbat pretty 
room at beautiful Wierzchownia, I sball be eitber a fool 
or a man of wisdom; perbaps neitber tbe one nor tbe 
otber, simply an ambitious beart defeated in an ingenious 
hope. 

Addio, cara ; I bope tbat ail goes well at Wierzchownia, 
tbat you bave wept a little over u César Birotteau," tbat 
you bave written me your feelings and impressions 
about tbat book, and tbat I sball tbus be rewarded for 
it in tbis world. Ail caressing tbings to tbose you love. 
I bave again put ofï writing to M. Ilanski, because I 
sball do so at Milan after receiving certain news. But 
give him my regards, and keep for yourself tbe most 
attacbing and coquettish, wbicb are your due. 

Off Alghiero, Sardinia, April 8. 
I am hère, after five days of rather lueky navigation 
in a coral-boat on its way to Africa. But I now know 
the privations of sailors ; we had nothing to eat but tbe 
fisb we caught, wbich tliey boiled into exécrable soup. 
I had to sleep on deck and be devoured by fleas, which 
abound, they say, in Sardinia. And fmally, altbougb 
hère, we are condemned to remnin five days in quarantine 
on this little boat, in view of port, and tbose savages 
will give us nothing. We hâve just gone through a 
frightful tempest; they would not let us fasten a cable 
to a ring on tbe quay ; but, as we are Frenchmen, one 



494 Honore de Balzac. [isss 

sailor jumped into tbe water and fastened it himself by 
force. Tbe governor came down and ordered tbe cable 
loosed as soon as tbe sea cahned down; wliieh, under 
tbeir System of contagion, was absurd; beeause we bad 
already given tbe choiera or we bad not given it. ïf 
was a pure notion of tbe governor, who wants things 
done as lie says. Africa begins hère; I see a ragged 
population, almost naked, brown as Etbiopians. 

Cagliaiîi, April 17. 

I bave just crossed tbe wbole of Sardinia and seen 
things such as tbey relate of tbe Ilurons and about Poly- 
nesia. A désert kingdom, real savages, no busbandry; 
long stretebes of paiin-trees and cactus; goals every- 
wbere browsing on tbe undergrowth and keeping it down 
to tbe level of tbe waist. I bave been seventeen and 
eigbteen hou us on horseback — I who bave not mounted a 
borse thèse four years — without seeing a single dwell- 
ing. I came tbrough a virgin forest, lying on tbe neck 
of my borse in fear of my life; for I bad to ride down 
vv-ater-courses arehed over v\ i th branches and climbing 
plants which threatened to put ont m} T eyes., break my 
teeth or wrench oiï my head. Gigantic oaks, cork-trees, 
laurel, and heather thirty feet higb, — notbing to eat. 

No sooner did I reacb ihe end of my expédition tban 
I bad to lliink of returning; so, without taking any resi, 
I started on horseback from Alghiero to Sassari, tbe 
second capital of tbe i si and, from wkieh a diligence, 
lately established, was to bring me hère, where tbere is, 
in port, a steamboat for Crenoa. But, as Ihe weather is 
bad hère I must stay for two da\ T s. 

From Sassari to Cagliari I came tbrough tbe whole of 
Sardinia, tbrough tbe middle of it. It is alike every- 
where. Tbere is one district where tbe inhabitants make 
a horrible bread by pounding acorns of tbe live-oak to 
flour and mixing it with clay, and this within sight of 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 495 

beautiful Italyî Men and women go naked with a strip 
of linen, a tattered rag, to cover their nudity. I saw 
masses of human beings trooped in the sun along the 
walls of their hovels, for Easter-day. No habitation 
bas a chimney; they niake their fires in the middle of 
the huts, which are draped with soot. The women spend 
their days in pounding the acorns and kneading the 
bread ; the men tend the goats and the cattle; the soil is 
untilled in this, the most fertile spot on earth! In the 
midst of this utter and incurable misery there are vil- 
lages which hâve costumes of amazing richness. 

Genoa, April 22. 

Now I can tell you the object of my journey. I hâve 
been both right and wrong. Last year, at this time, in 
Genoa, a merchant told me that the careless neglect of 
Sardinia was so great that there were, in a certain local- 
ity, disused silver mines with mountains of scorise con- 
taining refuse lead from which the silver had been taken. 
At once, I told him to send me spécimens of thèse scoriae 
to Paris, and that after assaying the m I would return 
and get a permit in Turin to work those mines with him. 
A year passed, and the man sent me nothing. 

Hère is my reasoning: The Romans and the metal- 
lurgists of the middle âges were so ignorant of docimasy 
that thèse scorie must, necessarily, still contain a great 
amount of silver. Now, a friend of Borget, a great 
chemist, possesses a secret by which to extract gold and 
silver in whatever way and in whatever proportion they 
are mixed with other material, at no great cost. By 
this means I could get ail the silver from thèse scoriae, 

While I was waiting and expecting the spécimens, my 
Genoese merchant obtained for himself the right to work 
the mine; and, while I was inventing my ingenious 
déduction, a Marseille firm went to Cagliari, assayed 
the lead and the scoriae, and petitioned, in rivalry with 



496 Honoré de Balzac, [1838 

the Geuoesc, for a permit in Turin. An assayer frora 
Marseille, who was taken to the spot, found tbat the 
scoriiv gave ten per cent of lead, and the lead ten per 
cent of siîver by the ordinary methods. 80 m y con- 
jectures were welbfounded; but I had the misfortune not 
to act promptly enough. On the other hand, misled by 
local information, I rode to the Argentara, another 
abandoned mine, situated in the wildest part of the 
island, and I brought away spécimens of minerai. Per- 
haps chance may serve me better than the reasonings of 
intellect. 

I am detained hère by the refusai of the Austrian con- 
sul to viser my passport for Milan, where I must go 
before returning to Paris, to get some money. I will 
send you ni} 7 letter h'om there, which is in the Austrian 
dominions, and time will be saved in its going to Brody. 

1 thought I should only be a month on this trip, and I 
shall hâve been from forty-live to fifty days. I do not 
surfer iess in my atïairs than in my habits by such a 
break. It is 110 w fifty days since I had news of you! 
And my poor house which is building! Grant it be 
finished, and that I may be able to regain time lost. I 
must do three w r orks at once without unharnessing. 

Adieu, cara. If you liave seen Genoa you know how 
dull the life is hère. I shall go to w 7 ork on my comedy. 
Do not scold me too much when you answer this letter 
about my journey, for the vanquished should be consoled. 
I hâve thought often of you during my adventurous trip; 
and I imagined that M. Hanski w^as saying more than 
once, u What the devil is he doing in that galiey?" 

À jtropos, the statue from Milan lias been received in 
Paris [Puttinati's statue], and is thought bad; so I shall 
not insist on sending you a copy; you bave enough of 
me on Boulanger' s canvas. 



1838] Letters to Madame Hannka. 497 

Milan, May 20, 1838. 

Dear countess, you know ail ihat tins date says [his 
birthday]. I begin the year at the end of which I shall 
belong to the great and numerous régiment of resigned 
soûls; for I swore to myself in the days of misfortune, 
struggle, and faith which made my youth so wretched, 
that I would struggle no longer against anything when I 
reached the âge of forty. Tbat terrible year begins 
to-day, — far from you, far from my own people, in a 
mortal sadness which nothing alleviates, for I caunot 
change my fate myself, and I no longer believe in fortu- 
nate accidents. My philosophy will be the chilcl of las- 
situde, not of despair. 

I came hère to find an opportunity to get back to 
France, and I hâve remained to do a work, the inspira- 
tion for which has corne to me hère after I had vainly 
implored it for some years. I hâve never read a book 
in which happy love is pictured. Rousseau is too im- 
pregnated with rhetoric; Richardson is too much of a 
reasoner; the poets are too flowery; the romance- writers 
are too slavish to facts; and Petrarch too busy with his 
images, his concetti ; he sees poesy better than he sees 
woman. Pope has given too many regrets to Héloïse. 
Noue hâve described the unreasoning jealousies, the 
seuseless fears, or the sublimity of the gift of self. It 
may be that God, who created love with humanity, alone 
understands it, for none of his créatures hâve, as I 
think, rendered the élégies, imaginations, and poésies of 
that divine passion, which every one talks of and so few 
hâve known. 

I want to end my youth — not my earliest youth — by 
a work outside of ail my other work, by a book apart, 
which shall remain in ail hands, on ail tables, ardent and 
innocent, containing a sin that there may be a return, 
passionate, earthly and religious, full of consolations, full 
of tears and joys; and I wish this book to be without a 

32 



498 Honoré de Balzac, [1838 

namc, like the "Imitation of Jésus Christ." I would I 
eould write it bere. But I must return to France, to 
Paris, re -enter my sbop of vendor of phrases, and be- 
tween now and then I can only sketch it. 

Since I wrote you notbing new bas happened. I bave 
seen once more the Duonio of Milan, and I bave made 
the tour of the Corso. But I bave notbing to say of ail 
tbat whicb } T ou do not know already. I bave made 
acquain tance with the Chiinœras of the grand chandelier 
on the altar of the Virgin, whicb I had seen superficially ; 
with Saint Bartholomew holding bis skin as a mantle; 
with certain delightful angels sustaining the circle of the 
choir; and tbat is ail. I bave beard, at the Scala, 
the Boccabadati in "Zelmira." But I go nowhere; the 
Countess Bossi came bravely up to me in the street and 
reminded me of our dear evening at the Sismondis'. She 
was not recognizable. The change in lier forced me to a 
terrible examination of myself. 

It is now two months tbat I bave had no news of you. 
My letters remain in Paris; no one writes to me because 
I hâve been wandering in lands where there are no mails. 
Notbing bas better proved to me tbat I am an animal 
living by caresses and affection, neither more nor less 
like a dog. Skin-deep friendships do not soit me; they 
weary me ; they make me feel more vividîy what treasures 
are inclosed in the hearts where I lodge. I am not a 
Frenchman, in the frivolous acceptation of tbat terra. 

The inn became intolérable to me, and I am, by the 
kindness of Prince Porcia, in a little chamber of bis 
bouse, overlooking gardens, where I work much at my 
ease, as wdth a friend who is ail kindness for me. 
Alphonso-Serafino, Principe di Porcia, is a m an of my 
own âge, the lover of a Conntess Bolognini, more in love 
this year than lie was last y car, unw r illing to marry 
unless lie can marry the countess, w r ho bas a husband 
from whom she is separated a mensâ et thoro. You see 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanslca. 499 

they are happy. The countess is very witty. The 
prince's sister is the Countess San-Severino, about whom 
I think I bave already told you. 

Milan is ail excitement about the coronation of the 
emperor as King of Lombardy; the house of Austria bas 
to spend itself in costs and fireworks. Though I bave 
seen Florence only through the crevice of a half-week, I 
prefer Florence to Milan as a résidence. If I hacl the 
bappiness to be so loved by a woman that she would give 
nie her life, it would be upon the banks of the Arno that 
I should go and spend m y life. But after ail, in spite 
of the romances of my friend George Sand, and my 
own, it is very rare to meet with a Prince Porcia who 
bas enough fortune to live where be likes. I am poor, 
and I bave wants. I must work like a galley-slave. I 
cannot say to Arabella d'Agoult (see the "Lettres d'un 
Voyageur"), "Corne to Vienna, and three concerts will 
give us ten tbousand francs ; let us go to Saint-Peters- 
blirg, and the ivory keys of my piano will buy us a 
palace." I need that insulting Paris, its publishers, its 
printing-offîces, twelve hours' stupefying work a day. 1 
bave debts, and debt is a countess who loves me too 
tenderly. I cannot send her away; she put s berself 
obstinately betwixt peace, love, idleness, and me. It is 
too hideous, that fate, to cast upon any one, even my 
enemies, There is only one woman in the world from 
whom I could accept anything, because I am sure of lov- 
ing her ail my life; but if she did not love me thus, I 
should kill myself in thinking of the part I had played. 

You see I must, within a few months, take refuge in 
the life of La Fontaine. Whichever side I turn I see 
only difficultés, toil, and vain and useless hope. I 
bave not even tbe resource of two years at Diodati on 
the Lake of Geneva, for I am now too hardened in work 
to die of it. I am like a bird in its cage, which bas 
struck against ail its bars, and now s its motionless on 



500 Honore de Balzac, [1838 

its perch, above whieh a whitc hand stretches tbe green 
net tbat protects it from breaking its head, You would 
ne ver believe wbat gloomy méditations ibis happy life of 
Porcia's costs me; lie lives upon tbe Corso, ten doors 
from tbe Bolognini. luit I am tbirty-nine to-day, with 
one bundred and lifty thousand francs of debt upon me; 
lielgium bas tbe million I bave earned, and — I bave 
not tbe courage to go on, for J perceive tbat tbe sadness 
which consumes me would be cruel upon paper, and I 
owe to friendsbip tbe grâce of keeping it in m y beart. 

To-morrow, after writing a few letters for my lovers, 
I sball be gayer, and I will corne to you with a virtue 
tbat sball make a saint despair. 

May 23. 

Cara, I bave bome-sickness! France and its sky — 
gray for most of tbe time — wrings my beart beneatb 
tbis pure blue sky of Milan. Tbe Duomo, decked with 
its laces, does not lift my soûl from indifférence; tbe 
Alps say notbing to me. Tbis soft, relaxing air fatigues 
me; I go and corne witbout soûl, witbout life, witbout 
power to say wbat tbe mat ter is; and if I stay tbus for 
two weeks longer, I sball be dead. To explain is impos- 
sible. Tbe bread I eat bas no savour; méat does not 
nourisb me, water can scarcely slake my tbirst; tbis air 
dissolves me. I look at tbe bandsomest woman in tbe 
world as if sbe were a monster, and I do not even hâve 
tbat common sensation tbat tbe sigbt of a ilower gives. 
M y work is abandoned. I sball recross tbe Alps, and I 
bope in a week to be in tbe midst of my own dear bell. 
Wbat a horrible malady is nostalgia ! It is indescribabie. 
I am bappy only at tbe moment when I write to you, and 
say to myself tbat tbis paper will go from Milan to TTierz- 
chownia; tben only does tbougbt break tbrougb tbis 
black existence beneatb tbe sun, this atony which relaxes 
every fibre of tbe life. Tbat is tbe only operative force 
wbicb maintains tbe union of soûl and body. 



x838] Letters to Madame Hansha. 501 

May 24. 

I hâve again seen the Couutess Bossi; and I am struck 
with the few resources of Italian women. They hâve 
neither minci nor éducation ; they scarcely understand 
what is said to them. In this country criticism does 
not exist, and I begin to think that the saying is right 
which attributes to Italian women something too material 
in love. The only intelligent and educated woman I 
hâve met in Italy is La Cortanza of Turin. 

I hâve been to see the Luini f rescos at Saronno ; they 
are worthy of their réputation. The one that représenta 
the Marriage of the Virgin is of peculiar sweetness. 
The faces are angelical, and, what is rare in f rescos, 
the tones are soft and harmonious. 

There is no présent opportunity to return to France. 
I musfc résolve to take the wearisome and fatiguing 
means of the Sardinian and French mail-carts. 

June 1, 1838. 

My departure is fixed for to-morrow, errors excepted, 
and I think that never shall I hâve seen France again 
with such pleasure, though my affairs must be greatly 
tangled by this too long absence. If I am six days on 
the road that will make three months, and, in ail, it has 
been seven months of inaction. I need eight consécu- 
tive months of work to repair this damage. I shall 
enter my new little house to spend many nights in 
working. 

June 5. 

I hâve jnst been to the post-office to see if any one had 
had the idea to write to me poste restante. There I 
found a letter from the kind Countess Loulou [Louise 
Turheim], who loves you and whom y ou love, and in 
whose letter your name is mentioned in a melancholy 
sentence which drew tears from my eyes; for, in the 
species of nostalgia under which I am, imagine what it 



502 Honore de Balzac. [iS38 

was to me to reeall the Landstrasse and the Gemeinde- 
gasse! I saf dowii on a bencli before a café and stayed 
there for nearly an hour, with niy eyes fixed on the 
Duomo, fascinated by ail that letter recalled ; and tbe 
incidents of my siay in Vienna passed bcfore me, one 
by one, in their tiuth, their marble eandour. Ab! what 
do I not owe — • not to lier wlio causes sucli memories, 
Imt — to tliis frail paper that awakens them! You must 
remember that I a ni without news of you for three months, 
by my own fault. You know why. îïut you will never 
knovv whenee tbis tbirst for making a fortune cornes to 
me. 

I am going to write to the good chanoinesse without 
telling lier ail she bas doue by ber letter, for sucli tbings 
are dibicult to express, even to that kind German 
woiiiaii. But sbe spoke of you with sucli soûl that I can 
tell ber that what in her is friendship in me is worship 
that can never end. Sbe says so prettily that one of my 
friends — not tbe véritable- one, but tbe otlier — is in 
Venice; tnily, sbe moved me to tears. Yv r hat perpétuai 
grief to be always so near you in tbougbt and so distant 
in reality! Ah, dear, tbe Duomo was very sublime to 
me on the f)th of Juue at eleven o'cloek! I lived there 
a whole year. 

Weli, adieu. I leove to-morrow, and in ten days I 
shall answer ail your letters, treasures amassed during 
tbis dreadful journey. May God guard you and yours, 
and forget not the poor exile wko loves you well. 

Aux Jaiidies, Sèvuks, July 26, 1833. 

I receive to-day your number 41, and I answer it, 
togetber with the three letters I found awaiting me in 
the rue des Batailles a month ago. 

In the first place, dear, you must know that the 
"Veuve Durand" no longer exists. The poor woman 
was killed by the little journals which pushed their base- 



1838] Letters to Madame Hanska. 503 

ness towards me so far as to betray a secret wbich to 
any m en of honour would hâve been sacred. So now I 
am established for always at Sèvres, and my hovel is 
called "Les Jardies;" therefore my address novv is and 
long will be: "M. de Balzac, aux Jardies, à Sèvres." 

You predicted truly in your last letter; I ought to 
pass a month hère doing nothing but turning round and 
round to settle myself upon my muck-heap. 1 am still 
in the midst of plasterers, masons, diggers, painters, 
and other workmen. I arrivée! quite full of that book 
which does not exist, whieh lias never been done, and 
winch I désire to do, and I found the most foolish mer- 
cantile hindrances; the two volumes of "La Femme 
Supérieure," taken from the "Presse," lack a few pages 
before they can be sold as a book, which I must fill out 
by adding the beginning of "La Torpille." I found the 
contractor for my house at bay ; I found the hounds of 
my debts awaiting me, with annoyances of ail kinds. 
I hâve enough